In the dark half of the Net no traces are left and you can enter only thanks to software that makes the connection anonymous,slipping into circuits that rest on networks superimposed on the Internet. The connection "bounces" between multiple servers located in the four corners of the planet, becoming untraceable.
Tor is the most widespread system and is considered by many users to be a tool that opens up spaces of freedom on the Web. Find the Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web in the search engine of darkweb. It is used by 2.8 million people a day,especially in countries where freedom of expression and access to the media is restricted. As one of the software developers, Roger Dingledine, told Carola Frediani in his "Network Wars": "Many users come from countries like Turkey, Uganda, Russia." But inside this underground world there are also all sorts of criminal activities .
The Amazon of illegality
A 2015 Usenix research estimates the illegal turnover of the Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web at 150-180 million dollars a year:weapons, drugs (which occupies 58% of the market with more than 26 thousand types of different substances), credit cards, current accounts, bank codes, fake passports and documents, drugs, pornography, fake jewelry, dangerous computer viruses. They are called black markets and you can find everything: they are a sort of Amazon of illegality, used by narcos and terrorists for every need. The data exchanged is encrypted between nodes, making it impossible to identify both the buyer and the seller .
Selling and buying: how it works
Placing itself halfway between supply and demand, the black market is the guarantor on payments that take place with virtual currency between anonymous subjects. Those who buy, strictly in bitcoin or with the even more armored monero, deposit their virtual money at the market. But the transaction is not completed until the buyer communicates the receipt of the package. Only then does the carrier release the direct payment to the vendor, withholding a commission of between 8 and 4 %, a discounted rate for the most reliable partners.
The operation of the Guardia di Finanza
Digital bandits are therefore difficult to unmask. It serves high computer skills, sophisticated technology, and investigative flair. When these requirements coincide, then some results come. A recent investigation by the Nucleo Frodi tecnologiche e privacy of the Guardia di Finanza, led by Colonel Reccia, has made it possible to dismantle one of the 25 main black markets on the clandestine web network: the name that had been given to it exploited the popularity of a well-known Italian political leader, was the Berlusconi Market.
Berlusconi Market: how it was discovered
Born in 2017, the Berlusconi Market boasted 103 thousand listings and was the fourth in order of magnitude among the main 25 existing. It was closed last November 7 with the arrest of the alleged manager, a 19-year-old boy, and two accomplices aged 25 and 26. The organization is entirely Italian, to be precise Apulian. The way in which the computer hounds managed to arrest them was the most "classic".
They ordered the purchase of modest doses of cocaine, and then sifted through thousands of mail packets. The market was the Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web. "Our investigation started from a vendor called in the G00d00 round – says Colonel Reccia – who received requests for purchases from the USA, Australia, Europe. Having identified the region of origin of its packages, Puglia, with the collaboration of the Postal Mechanized Center of Bari we were able to locate the area of Barletta: the sender sent from there».
The band was based in Puglia
Investigators had to simulate four purchases before they could trace exactly to the mailbox where they had been posted. At this point, a targeted camera was placed that captured G00d00 posting suspicious packages. He was a 26-year-old boy, the son of a professional couple. Analyzing tablets, mobile phones, PCs and whatsApp messages, they traced back to the alleged manager of the Black Market, a student of the Polytechnic of Turin of just 19 years, Luis Di Vittorio, originally from Putignano, in the province of Bari. In the reconstruction of the investigators, his nickname was Vladimir Putin, while that of the intermediary was Emmanuel Macron.
5000 euros a passport, 230 a hand grenade
On the Berlusconi Market, blocked at the request of the Brescia prosecutor who coordinated the investigation, it was possible to buy a US passport for less than 5 thousand euros, and at a slightly lower price an Italian, German, Dutch or French passport. An Ak 47 cost 700 euros, 230 a hand grenade, but revolvers and pistols of various types, rifles and machine guns were also available. The most treated drug was methamphetamine, followed by cannabis, MDMA and cocaine. One sixth of the turnover consisted of bank details and counterfeit banknotes, which were purchased in packages: 650 euros for 100 pieces of 50 euros. Buyers came largely from Holland and Germany.
A study by the University of Oxford in April 2018, placed Berlusconi Market in fourth place after the "oldest" and Best Onion Sites on the Dark Web Dream Market, Tochka and Wall Street. When the Dream Market, at the beginning of 2019, closed its doors for unknown reasons, Putin and Macron commented not knowing they were being intercepted: "Dream Market is about to close, we need a full immersion", that is, work hard to conquer the competitor's market. In the following months the vendors of the site just deactivated have largely passed through the platform of the Italian student, causing the number of ads to skyrocket over one hundred thousand.
The Italian operation is one of a kind. To date, only three world market managers have been arrested. The first was Ross Ulbricht, a 35-year-old American computer scientist sentenced to life imprisonment for founding and operating Silk Road, a large black market that closed in 2013. In 2017, 24-year-old Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian, who ran Alpha Market, was captured, locked up in a joint operation by the Netherlands, Germany and the FBI.
Cazes committed suicide shortly after his arrest. He owned 3 gigantic villas and 4 Lamborghinis. And then there is the young computer scientist born in Putignano, who on the phone with his girlfriend, suspecting investigations on his partners, had let himself go to an outburst: "If they have to condemn me for all the crimes I have done, they must take the key and throw it away! Replacement in person! Fake documents! International shop! All! They first say what I didn't do."