The dark web drug-selling platform used billboards for its advertising. Four Russian websites share the drug market and feed a huge criminal market.
The black market is coming to light. This Sunday, February 5, several billboards of one of the most important Russian dark web sites were hijacked in Moscow. The screens featured a woman wearing a black mask, along with the slogan “Come see me if you’re looking for the best” and the name of the illegal BlackSprut market.
The transition followed by advertising is done so well that you never suspect for a second that this is a hack or promotion of a fraudulent site. Therefore, the question arises whether the hackers have taken control of the screen or harmed the responsible company. One of the signs was located Numerama in Moscow’s bustling shopping district near the center.
Fierce competition between four sites
The BlackSprut claims to be the successor to the very popular Hydra platform, which was dismantled by the German police almost a year ago. In fact, it competes with three illegal sites – OMG, Kraken and Mega, which today share four transactions on the dark web. BlackSprut is currently the leader with a 28% exchange market share, followed by Mega with a 22% share, according to blockchain firm TRM Labs.
These groups are rivals, and promotional stunts like Sunday’s are not new, as OMG already had its logo projected onto buildings in Moscow at the end of December last year. BlackSprut innovates drug sales with chatbots to order goods directly from Telegram.
OMG logo! projected onto a building in Moscow. // Source: Yaroslavka-live
While the dark web marketplaces sell just about anything and everything — guns, porn, hacking services — these sites mostly specialize in drugs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has locked the country within its borders, making it difficult to trade and deal with the outside world. The black market and cryptocurrency exchanges are becoming more prominent on these sites.
Some platforms are directly linked to Kremlin-sponsored hackers and serve to fund their hacking operations. Aleksey Milchakov, an openly Nazi Russian mercenary currently fighting in Ukraine, confirmed that he paid the militias through OMG!, Mega and BlackSprut. In short, drugs make it possible to finance war.
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