Black Markets: Amazon for Illegal Goods and Services

Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy, weapons, prostitution, poison, extremely cheap Apple computers and other electronics. Those are just several of goods and services that can be bought using illegal black markets. Black markets exist everywhere. They do, however, tend to develop easier in states or countries with extremely heavy regulation. Hence when government restricts an item, a demand for it doesn’t disappear, sometimes it even grows. Forbidden fruit is the sweetest.

What is a Black Market?

The black market is considered a subset of the informal economy, of which 1.8 billion people worldwide are employed.

“No government, no global nonprofit, no multinational enterprise can seriously claim to be able to replace the 1.8 billion jobs created by the economic underground. In truth, the best hope for growth in most emerging economies lies in the shadows”
Global Bazaar, Scientific American
Black markets are sometimes referred as underground economy. There are actually many more names for black markets, like subterranean, hidden, shadow, clandestine, unobserved, unreported, unrecorded, second and parallel.

Black markets operate outside the formal economy. The key issue concerning black markets is not the illegal status of goods and services sold there, but the transaction itself that is illegal. The goods or services may or may not themselves be illegal to own, or to trade through other, legal channels.

Black Market Fundamentals

Black markets are used not only to sell illegal goods and services, but to avoid taxes or elude price control.
There is no single particular black market. There are many, that are distinguished by the goods and services they sell and the rules they break. For example, there are criminal drugs, the illegal economy, the unreported economy, the unrecorded economy and the informal economy.

coutesy of nowsourcing_1
If black markets usually offer lower prices, why would people still prefer to buy goods and services via legal channels? First of all, legal suppliers and sellers are easier to contact and can be held accountable for faults. Second, in some countries consumers can be charged criminal offence by using black markets. Third, people are sometimes afraid of getting hurt while making the purchase. Forth, they just can have bad feelings about purchasing from black markets. Fifth, in some economies, if you bought a stolen good, and it was found out later, you need to return it to its owner even if you didn’t know it was stolen when purchasing. You don’t get your money back.
Among mostly traded goods and services within black markets are illegal drugs, prostitution, weapons, illegally logged timber, animals and animal goods, biological organs, transportation, housing rentals, counterfeit consumer goods, copyrighted media, currency, fuel etc.

There are a lot of situations when using black market is safer, easier and much less expensive. Let’s take taxi services. Unlicensed taxis are also the part of a black market, but people are using them as they are way cheaper and sometimes more convenient. There are some experts who refer to services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar as gypsy cabs. However, they are legal in US, but restricted in Thailand, for instance. There is no doubt, that almost everyone who has ever used these car services know, that they are actually better than regular licensed taxis.

Bitcoin and Black Market

There are several hundred of online black markets. They can be reached by using the deep web, by acquiring Tor as a proxy to the browser. They usually accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Since Bitcoin is one of the most anonymous currencies used online, it is very popular in black markets.

Agora, Black&Yellow, Evolution, USJUD, Cloud 9, Hydra, Pandora, Sheep marketplace, those are only few of the black markets found in the deep web.

Two years ago journalist from Forbes Andy Greenberg purchased small quantities of marijuana from three black markets: Silk Road, Atlantis, and BlackMarket Reloaded. Two of the packages arrives successfully. He suggests that that one package could have easily been confiscated by customs because it was coming from Holland.

Some IT experts suggest to become familiar with TOR, onion sites and darkweb before trying to use black marketplaces. To be as much anonymous as possible, one will need to use public wi-fi, like Starbucks or library, and have a very strong computer antenna, to be able to reside far away from that public place. Make sure to spoof your MAC address, which you can do by selecting Yes when asked if you want more options.

The most popular and well known online black market was called the Silk road. It was shut down several years ago. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Bitcoin black market Silk road faces life in prison.

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