Dark Web Marketplaces and COVID-19: After the Vaccines

26 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2021 Last revised: 7 Sep 2021

See all articles by Alberto Bracci

Alberto Bracci

City University London - School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Matthieu Nadini

City University London

Maxwell Aliapoulios

New York University (NYU) - NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Damon McCoy

New York University (NYU) - NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Ian Gray

Fordham University

Alexander Teytelboym

University of Oxford

Angela Gallo

Independent

Andrea Baronchelli

City University London - School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; City University London

Date Written: February 10, 2021

Abstract

Early analyses revealed that dark web marketplaces (DWMs) started offering COVID-19 related products (e.g., masks and COVID-19 tests) as soon as the current pandemic started, when these goods were in shortage in the traditional economy. Here, we broaden the scope and depth of previous investigations by analysing 194 DWMs until July 2021, including the crucial period in which vaccines became available, and by considering the wider impact of the pandemic on DWMs. First, we focus on vaccines. We fond 250 listings offering approved vaccines, like Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca, as well as vendors offering fabricated proofs of vaccination and COVID-19 passports. Second, we consider COVID-19 related products. We reveal that, as the regular economy has become able to satisfy the demand of these goods, DWMs have decreased their offer. Third, we analyse the profile of vendors of COVID-19 related products and vaccines. We fond that most of them are specialized in a single type of listings and are willing to ship worldwide. Finally, we consider a broader set of listings simply mentioning COVID-19. Among 10,330 such listings, we show that recreational drugs are the most affected among traditional DWMs product, with COVID-19 mentions steadily increasing since March 2020. We anticipate that our effort is of interest to researchers, practitioners, and law enforcement agencies focused on the study and safeguard of public health.

Keywords: Vaccine, COVID-19, Dark markets, Illicit products, Shadow economy, Bitcoin

JEL Classification: C00, C80, C82, Y80, D40, D20

Suggested Citation

Bracci, Alberto and Nadini, Matthieu and Aliapoulios, Maxwell and McCoy, Damon and Gray, Ian and Teytelboym, Alexander and Gallo, Angela and Baronchelli, Andrea, Dark Web Marketplaces and COVID-19: After the Vaccines (February 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3783216 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3783216

Alberto Bracci (Contact Author)

City University London - School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

Matthieu Nadini

City University London ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V OHB
United Kingdom

Maxwell Aliapoulios

New York University (NYU) - NYU Tandon School of Engineering ( email )

6 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

Damon McCoy

New York University (NYU) - NYU Tandon School of Engineering ( email )

6 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://new.engineering.nyu.edu/faculty/damon-mccoy

Ian Gray

Fordham University ( email )

113 West 60th Street
Bronx, NY 10458
United States

Alexander Teytelboym

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Angela Gallo

Independent

Andrea Baronchelli

City University London - School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

City University London ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V OHB
United Kingdom

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