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Friday, January 25, 2013

Crisis on the Silk Road: If you can't trust Britain's biggest online drug dealer, who can you trust? 


By Last updated: January 24th, 2013

Over the weekend, Britain's biggest seller of marijuana on the illegal but very successful online drug-dealing website Silk Road (SR, to those in the know) seems to have cut and run, disappearing from SR with a huge amount of his customer's money. Alarm bells were raised when the seller, known for his reliability, began asking for people to buy his product "FE" – Finalising Early.
This process – which bypasses SR's protection mechanisms – releases the buyer's funds from escrow into the seller's hands before they ship anything. Hardened users of the SR website see this as a huge warning sign, but this seller had one of the best track records on the site. The seller seems to have absconded with several weeks' worth of money; certainly, the administrators of the site have suspended his account.
As one user said: "This has played out like a typical cut-and-run scam. SR would not suspend an account without serious reason for concern, so its suggests that something dodgy was going on. I could speculate as to what happened but the simplest explanation is usually right: scam."
Of course, online scammers are nothing new in the world of online drug buying. Last year, a massive scam by the site's biggest heroin dealer left the owners of the site with a six-figure bill in terms of replacing angry buyer's cash – but with their reported profit at $100,000 a month, I'm sure it was painful, but not fatal to them. Still, they did refund the money – SR has developed its reputation by being the most above-board black market in the world, allowing access to stats, allowing users to see, for example, what proportion of buyers' orders that have been refunded. This works both ways: many sellers refuse to do business with anyone with more than zero refunds or with no buying history.
Getting to SR and indeed the rest of the "darknet", as it's known, requires a certain technical nous. However, as Jack Rivlin reported this week in the Telegraph, there are plenty of other sites the less technical can use – household names like Craigslist, eBay and Gumtree. Online drug dealing is becoming bigger and bigger – and the customers are becoming more affluent. One dealer I spoke to when I was investigating this subject in July last year said simply: “They are no trouble. No begging. No stealing. No promises. If the money not in the PayPal account, you don’t send the goods.”
UK law enforcement has no real answer to this kind of drug dealing, carried out across national borders, with no real names to track the dealers down with, no middlemen or small-time clockers to lean on. Local cops think in terms of local dealers; we're sleepwalking into a situation where many forces don't even know it is going on. Organisations like SOCA (soon to be folded into the National Crime Agency) are aware of the capability gap they have, but with budgets being slashed all round, there is no money for the kind of heavy-grade data analysis that would be needed to track people down.
Of course, with more wide-eyed university students buying online instead of taking a trip into a dodgy part of town, there are far more scammers looking to prey on the unwary. Especially when buying harder drugs, or other illegal commodities like firearms, scammers outnumber real sellers probably ten to one, in my experience. Of course, if you lose your money online trying to buy heroin or a pistol, you have to be pretty stupid to call the police.
Perhaps, scammers undermining trust in the big-name, supposedly safe sites like Silk Road is one of the only things stopping online drug dealing from exploding into the mainstream. On the other hand, the professionalism of SR's owners will keep it going for a while. Watch this space.

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Monday, January 14, 2013


Congratulations on finding your way to the Silk Road. There are a few things you'll want to make sure you have before you get started here, to make sure your walk down the Road is a pleasant one.
At first, all members will only be able to read the wiki. There is no reason to log in, nor can you. This is for security reasons. If you would like to see changes, add sections, or spot spelling mistakes please contact one of the Admins. The Admins at this point are Flush and Inigo.
You can think of this as being a big FAQ site. We will be constantly changing and adding to it. We welcome any and all submissions. As long as they are prevalent to Silk road's forum or the market. If you are interested in helping write, send me a message over in the forums.
We are slowly adding vendors to the Wiki. When we are all done, you will be able to put in the name of the vendor in the search bar and select "go". It should take you to the vendors page here on the wiki, not to the vendors page in the market.

What Every Buyer Needs
Every buyer must have:
1. A safe method to access SR
It is of the utmost importance that you access SR and the darknet in general in a safe and secure way, so that your identity can not be linked to your illicit activities.
2. A working knowledge of PGP encryption software
The ability to encrypt with PGP and decrypt PGP messages is a critical part of security on SR. Any sort of sensitive data, such as your name and address, should always be encrypted to the vendor you are ordering from. This prevents anyone besides the intended vendor from reading your information. Any other information you would not want someone spying on should be encrypted as well for your own peace of mind.
3. A basic understanding of Bitcoins and how they work
What you really need to know is simple compared to how Bitcoins work at a detailed level, but it's enough to make it much easier to get coins into your account and figure out what happened if they get stuck on the way.
4. A grasp of the tools offered by SR
You'll save yourself a lot of messages to Support if you give a look through how the site works and the tools it offers for when a transaction doesn't go smoothly.

Accessing the Road Safely
Main article on safely accessing SR
[This section is still under construction]
Operating System
Hidden OS
If you encrypt your hard drive you can have multiple passwords at system start up to run different operating systems. Non-incriminating passwords can be given up, and the hidden OS can't be proven to even exist.
If you only access SR through an OS run off of a USB stick, it's much easier to hide or destroy everything connecting you to your SR account.
You can use a VPN to hide your Tor browsing from your ISP. This is only really helpful if you find a VPN that doesn't keep any logs and accepts anonymous payment.
Tor Browser
It's important to access SR through the actual Tor Browser. If you use a clearnet proxy with a regular web browser (ie then you're routing your traffic partially through the clearnet, which is an unnecessary risk.
The Tor Browser can be downloaded for free at the Tor Project website.
Encrypting Sensitive Data
Main article on PGP Encryption
The essence of PGP encryption is that it allows you to easily send messages which are readable only by the person with the right private key, simply by encrypting your message with their public key. The private key can not be derived from the public key, so the public key can be posted publicly without worry, which helps facilitate PGP has a fairly easy method of secure communication.
On the Road, a chief security concern is messages and transaction history which could potentially incriminate you. It is important that any information which may incriminate you, ie your address, be encrypted with PGP before sending it. That way, even if someone gained access to your or the recipient's account they would be unable to read anything which would incriminate you.
Are you having trouble with PGP, or are you not sure your keys work? Follow this link to the Security section of the forum for help: Welcome to the Security Subforum
Understanding Bitcoins
Main article on Bitcoins
The Basics
Bitcoins are a digital currency, and they're kept in wallets (kind of like regular currency, except these wallets are superior because potentially anyone can add money to your wallet but only you can take it out). A Bitcoin wallet is essentially a collection of addresses, Bitcoin ownership, and a password needed to send coins to other wallets.
New addresses are generated mathematically, so they are permanently tied to the wallet they're generated for and can always receive deposits for that wallet.
Because of the way Bitcoin operates as a non-centralized currency, the time it takes to transfer Bitcoins from one wallet to another can vary. The block chain is the record of every transaction, and can be used to look up the address that should be receiving a transfer and see whether the transaction has been recorded and confirmed. For more information, see the main article.
Your SR Wallet
Your SR Bitcoin wallet works just like any other wallet. You can generate new addresses, and old addresses remain a functional part of the wallet.
Having the wallet accessed through the site grants the advantages of easy ordering and convenient tools like direct transfer to a username.
Wallet Security
Your wallet will have a new address automatically generated when it receives a deposit. This is for security purposes, as always depositing to a new address obscures how many BTC are actually entering your wallet, and it makes it more difficult to piece together any patterns that might indicate the wallet is associated with SR.
You can increase the effect by breaking your deposits down into pieces and depositing the pieces to different addresses.
Are you having trouble understanding Bitcoins, or finding a good place to get them? Follow this link to the Security section of the forum for help: Welcome to the Security Subforum
Utilizing the Tools of the Road
[This section is still under construction]
Contacting SR Support
Frequently Asked Questions
Support is here for you when you can't find the answer to your question on here or the forum, or when you need help with various problems.
If you look through the FAQ linked above, you'll find the answers to some more questions and also any information that Support may need to assist you with any trouble. Knowing what information to send before you first message Support can help your trouble to be resolved much more quickly.
When An Order Fails To Arrive
Main article on the Resolution Center
If an order hasn't arrived within 10 days of being marked shipped, an automatic message goes out that looks like this:
One or more of your shipments have not been confirmed in over 10 days . Please finalize any shipments that have arrived, or click "resolve" next to the ones that have not arrived. If you do nothing, your payment will be released to your vendor 17 days after your order was shipped. Best regards, Silk Road staff NOTE: This is an automated message. Please only reply if you need to reach Silk Road support staff.
Seven days after that message is sent to you, the order will automatically finalize, and it will be exactly like you clicked finalize yourself; the coins in escrow will be released to the vendor, and the order will be closed. It will also increase your auto-finalize stat.
If an order hasn't arrived, don't allow it to auto-finalize. A high a-f stat implies that you receive orders and don't release the funds, which vendors dislike. Before the auto-finalize date, try to contact the vendor of any orders that haven't arrived, and see what the situation is. If it hasn't arrived before the a-f date, click resolve to take the order to the Resolution Center.
If you have these four essentials, you're ready to make a successful purchase.

Silk Road Wiki (requires TOR):  http://dkn255hz262ypmii.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Please visit main article (requires TOR):  http://dkn255hz262ypmii.onion/wiki/index.php/Necessities