Hundreds of COVID-19 related products found in dark markets due to shortages in the traditional economy

We registered that shortages in the traditional economy are correlated with an increase of listings related to COVID-19 (e.g. masks and medicines). And vice versa. Our analysis included more than 30 DWMs, monitored between January and November 2020.

The number of active COVID-19 related listings evolved over time, as shown by the blue curve in the Figure. The first COVID-19 specific listing in our dataset appeared on January 28, 2020, following the Wuhan lockdown. In March, lockdowns in many countries corresponded to an increase in the number of these listings, whose number kept increasing until May. In June and July, when quarantine restrictions in the northern hemisphere started to ease, we observed a decreasing trend in the selected COVID-19 specific listings, which continued until November. We also considered the number of active listings mentioning the words “COVID-19” or “coronavirus”. These listings followed the same trend as COVID-19 related listings with two notable exceptions, as visible in the yellow curve. We observed two sudden increases in COVID-19 in correspondence of the second wave of contagions in Europe in September and new lockdown measures in November.

Look at our previous posts for more details about the connection between shortages in the traditional economy and COVID-19 related products. The impact of the first wave of contagions on Personal Protective Products (like masks) is given here. For insights about medicines, click here, and for more information about guides on how to scam, see here.

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Want to cite and/or use the information provided in this page? It is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - please cite our ongoing monitoring effort as follows:

A. Bracci, M. Nadini, M. Aliapoulios, D. McCoy, I. Gray, A. Teytelboym, A. Gallo, A. Baronchelli. Dark Web Marketplaces and COVID-19: before the vaccine. EPJ Data Science 10.1 (2021): 1-26

Fri Jan 29 2021




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The research presented in the website is supported by the "COVID-19: Monitoring the effects of the pandemic on illicit online trade" project funded by the ESRC. Content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) unless otherwise specified in single posts.