Journal article Open Access

The 21st Century DarkNet Market: Lessons from the Fall of Silk Road

Lacson, Wesley ; Jones, Beata

K Jaishankar

Silk Road was an online marketplace through which consumers bought and sold drugs and other contraband. It ran successfully for almost two years, generating millions of dollars in revenue for the users and for the administrators. The FBI shut it down in October 2013, resulting in a seizure of $3.6 million of funds in escrow. The shutdown also led to the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder and chief operator of the site, known by users as the Dread Pirate Roberts. This exploratory research examines the events surrounding the site’s closure via content analysis of three Dark Net market forums. The analysis draws conclusions about the behavior of the Dark Net market user base and the potential of these marketplaces in the future. This research also adds to the growing body of knowledge about the behavior of close-knit, clandestine groups on the Internet.

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