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Is Telegram The New Place To Do Business For Dark Web Vendors?

Dark web drug dealers are turning to popular apps to peddle their products. More and more dark web drug dealers are starting to use apps like Telegram to sell their products, often using bots and stickers to advertise their accounts and guide potential buyers to their shops. Aside from the traditional dark web marketplaces which still remain the go-to place for buying drugs and illegal content online, apps like Telegram are starting to gain popularity among sellers and buyers alike.

It’s no surprise that encrypted apps have long been used by people selling illegal content on the dark web either to directly sell their products or to ‘safely’ communicate with their customers. Several reports from independent Cyber Security researchers into the messaging app show that vendors are exploiting Telegram’s encryption options to sell more and more illegal goods.

However, Law enforcement is cracking down on these groups the same way as they are on dark web marketplaces.

Late 2020, German law enforcement officials announced seizing nine Telegram-based drug groups with 8,000 users.

Telegram Groups

There are many Telegram groups in which the compromised data of millions of people is being openly shared and exposed to unprecedented levels of hacking, online fraud, financial fraud and online attacks. Offering a marketplace within the apps infrastructure where users can easily buy anything from stolen personal information, pirated software, fake ID’s, hacked credit cards and even Covid-19 vaccines.

A report from NortonLifeLock shows that content moderation is increasingly difficult and sometimes even impossible due to the safety options that apps like Telegram offer their users. Because of the encryption offered and the low moderation of content these apps allow sellers of illegal goods to easily communicate with their (potential) buyers without great fear from law enforcement.

Telegram, being know for their strong anonymity protections is therefor being used in increasing numbers to conduct illegal business rather than traditional dark web marketplaces.

The report shows that it’s quite easy to find places on Telegram to buy goods such as people’s personally identifiable information, stolen gift cards, fake documents, pirated software, and tools to facilitate cybercrime such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS). The latter being an ongoing issue for many dark web marketplaces accessible only with the Tor Browser.

Covid-19 Vaccines

One of the things law enforcement and national protective bodies are worried about are the sale of (fake) covid-19 vaccines. These sellers are taking advantage of the anxiety of people wanting to get vaccinated and selling dangerous fake Covid-19 vaccines.

Vendor selling illegal Covid-19 Vaccines on Telegram.

Televend

A new complex system of Telegram bots selling drugs and other illegal goods. This is what Televend is building its business on. With the demise of many large dark web marketplaces solutions such as Televend are sprouting up. Whether or not this is a safe and sustainable solution to dark web marketplaces remains to be seen as the platform its being run on is beyond the control of Televend operators.

There are however Televend channels that have over 150,000 subscribers and keep growing because of the already large amount of Telegram users. This makes it easier for potential buyers to get in on the hype because they do not have to “learn” to use something new as they would with marketplaces that are only accessible through the Tor Browser.

However this also makes it easier for law enforcement officials to infiltrate these groups.

Product offer by vendor on Televend.

According to the owners;

Televend is an auto-shop bot network for direct dealers”

“We administer the bots and vendors run them like private shops. Customers can visit them and pay with bitcoin, track orders and payments plus leave feedback/ratings.”

“listings and configuration of their bot via a .onion Tor based control panel so no Telegram account is needed to vend.”

Their way of operating the platform makes sense because most sellers know how to operate and find their way with apps such as the Tor Browser.

In Short

Telegram is an option for people wanting an alternative to buying on traditional dark web marketplaces. Sellers of illegal goods, especially digital goods like fraud services, attacks, fake documents etc. but also Scammers are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new technologies to conduct their illegal business. Research suggests that apps such as telegram have a good chance of being more widely used but they cant compete with the wide variety of additional options most good traditional dark web marketplaces such as White House Market or Dark0de Reborn have to offer.

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