Darknet Market to Permanently Ban Vendors Preying on COVID-19 Fears

Dark web marketplace, Monopoly Market, has taken a stand against scammers claiming to sell cures and treatments for COVID-19 on its platform.

On other darknet platforms, listings are rife with coronavirus keywords — with vendors selling everything from narcotic cocktails marketed as ‘coronavirus vaccines,’ to coronavirus-infected blood and saliva.

Monopoly Market to ban vendors using coronavirus as ‘marketing tool’

On April 2, dark web journalist, Eileen Ormsby, tweeted a screenshot posted by Monopoly Market’s operator that threatened permanent bans against vendors “caught flogging goods as a ‘cure’ to Coronavirus.”

“We have class here,” the post states.“You do not, under any circumstances use COVID-19 as a marketing tool. No Magical Cures, no silly fucking mask selling, toilet paper selling. None of that bullshit.” Monopoly Market also warns buyers:

“You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet — under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-10 as a marketing tool to peddle tangle/already questionable goods.”

Darknet markets rife with coronavirus listings

While Monopoly seeks to stamp out listings targeting coronavirus, vendors on other platforms are competing to capitalize on the public’s fears.

In addition to fake coronavirus antidotes and vaccines priced for hundreds of dollars, packs of surgical and N95 masks are being sold worldwide for an exorbitant premium. 

President Donald Trump’s recent statements concerning the potential for the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have resulted in a similar emergence of listings for the anti-malarial drugs — despite experts warning that there is an absence of peer-reviewed evidence demonstrating their effectiveness in treating or preventing COVID-19.

A report published by The Independent shows listings for boxes of chloroquine priced at $200 each.

Some dark web entities push back against exploiting COVID-19

On March 19, cyber threat research company Digital Shadows published a report examining the reactions from the dark web community to the coronavirus pandemic.

The report concluded that while many cybercriminals have sought to “capitalize on fear and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” the firm also “observed some atypical discussions from users,” — including “discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic,” “expressing solidarity with countries affected,” and “providing health and safety information.”

On March 18, cybersecurity publication, BleepingComputer, reported that only two of seven ransomware operators contacted by the outlet had stated that they would not target hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. 

This past week, Cointelegraph reported that IT professionals from 65 countries had banded together to fight ransomware targeting hospitals.