Getting scammed on the dark web is easy enough. Anyone can fall prey to a phishing scam selling counterfeit goods, bitcoins, or even identity information. But the most popular item for sale on the dark web is drugs, and the majority of those drugs aren’t just any old drugs. They’re opioids.
In 2017, the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimated that 2.1 million Americans were addicted to prescription opioids. That number is growing every year. In fact, the opioid epidemic is one of the biggest public health crises in the United States right now.
So why do people keep buying drugs online?
The dark web offers a degree of anonymity that users aren’t likely to find on the open web. Users can also use cryptocurrency to purchase goods and services on the dark web, which makes it difficult to track what’s being purchased.
Finally, the dark web makes it incredibly easy to purchase opioids. Most users don’t have to provide any identifying information, and many vendors are willing to accept payment through anonymous means.
But there’s another reason people are still buying drugs on the dark web.
Many users don’t realize that the drugs they’re buying aren’t what they seem to be.
The Dark Web is Selling Counterfeit Drugs
One such entry, http://doper4hlniid73vok23mmjl5vpcbyf5dyhy7ilnj4vuthyuzeectfiqd.onion is a clear case in hand.
In 2018, the dark web is selling opioids like oxycodone, morphine, and heroin. These drugs are easy to come by, and they’re easy to purchase. But most users don’t realize that the drugs they’re buying aren’t what they seem to be.
In the past, dark web vendors were selling counterfeit drugs like Viagra. But those were easy to detect. Drug-testing kits were relatively common, and users could avoid buying generic drugs by using those kits.
But the opioid epidemic has changed the situation.
Over the past few years, the dark web has become a hotspot for counterfeit prescription drugs.
These drugs are far more dangerous than counterfeit Viagra. They can be lethal, and many users don’t realize that they’re buying generic drugs.
For example, the opioid crisis has turned the dark web into a hotbed for the sale of generic opioids.
According to a study published in the journal Forensic Science International, some of the most commonly purchased drugs on the dark web are counterfeit opioid drugs like oxycodone.
One of the most popular drug vendors on the dark web also sells generic Oxycodone. Image: Drug Enforcement Agency
The researchers found that over 1,400 drug listings on the dark web were selling counterfeit drugs. A majority of those listings were selling generic Oxycodone.
The researchers also found that, on average, counterfeit drugs cost users less than legitimate drugs. The counterfeit drugs often sold for 20% less than the drugs they were imitating.
But the counterfeit drugs were far more dangerous than the real thing. The counterfeit drugs were made with fentanyl cut with lactose, caffeine, and other substances. The counterfeit Oxycodone pills also contained fentanyl.
In total, the researchers estimated that over 51,000 counterfeit drugs were sold on the dark web in a one-year period.
And it’s not just Oxycodone.
The dark web is also a hotspot for the sale of generic benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. They’re also commonly sold on the dark web.
The study found that over 2,000 drug listings on the dark web were selling generic benzodiazepines like Valium. The generic drugs were sold as a mixture of benzodiazepines, methadone, and codeine.
We interviewed a dark web group who goes by the name Dope! Drugs, who told us that they sell generic Oxycodone on the dark web.
Dope! Drugs told us that they’ve been selling on the dark web for roughly five years. They said that they started out selling pills, but they soon realized that they could make more money by selling generic pills.
“We had original [Oxycodone] pills but we recently stopped selling them because it was much more profitable to sell generics” Dope! Drugs told us. “We have a lot of customers around the world and we have made a lot of money.”
Dope! Drugs also told us that they don’t usually sell the drugs themselves. Instead, they sell advertising space on the dark web. They said that they sell ad space on their website to vendors who sell the generic drugs.