The offer of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on dark markets

Since January 2020, the demand of COVID-19 related products, like toilet papers, protective masks, and alcohol disinfectants, dramatically increased. The consequent shortage of supplies of these products contributed to a sharp raise in prices, which may have led to the emergence of such products in dark markets (DWMs).

We analyzed more than 400k online illicit listings in 23 DWMs and found evidence of 343 PPE listings. Not surprisingly, the time evolution of these listings is related to major global events - such as the beginning of the lockdowns in Wuhan and in Italy - and public attention, which we monitored the number of tweets containing PPE and Wikipedia visits to the PPE English page. As shown in the Figure above, a first peak in public attention on PPE was reached following the Wuhan lockdown, while a second peak in public attention when PPE listings started to appear in DWMs. The number of PPE listings reached their maximum in May and steadily decreased in correspondence to the end of the “first wave” of contagion in many European countries.

So yes, COVID-19 did favour the emergence of PPE listings in DWMs. DWMs are embedded in our society and behave organically to social changes. What will happen to PPE listings during the “second wave” of contagion?

Click here if you would like to know whether also COVID-19 related medicines are available on dark markets.

How to cite:

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

Tue Nov 03 2020




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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.