Hydra Market is the largest dark web marketplace accounted for 65% of trade on darknet. However, due to several flaws, multi-headed monster tops the list of the most dangerous DNMs from the buyers’ perspective.
Personal Data Compromised
All Hydra Market vendors I’d contacted refused to provide their public PGP keys and suggested to send disposable notes instead. The problem is you can’t use third-party services, for instance, Privnote. Hydra’s messenger automatically deletes external links marking them as spam.
That is why you do not have any other choice but to utilize Hydra’s service to create self-destructed notes. Any links inserted into a message are considered to be phishing and get deleted.
So, you’re required to write personal information in a plain text that is recorded on Hydra’s server. Therefore, the darknet market admins can get full access to sensitive data, for example, your address. According to the system message, notes self-destruct after being read but we never know what happens in reality. Sellers declined to explain the reason why they don’t want to disclose their PGP keys. I’m sure that dealers employ 2FA via PGP to protect their accounts on Hydra. However, one vendor claimed he didn’t know how to use encryption and what a PGP key is. To me, it looks like a conspiracy between DNM’s owners and vendors to establish a database of buyers’ personal details.
Dead Drops May Be Flagged
Every time a vendor adds an “instant sale” listing, he leaves an unencrypted comment with an exact dead drop location. Once a buyer pays his order, he receives a message containing information about the stash’s whereabouts.
In March 2020, buyers bought 995,580 dead drops, so the actual sales volume is very large. The Hydra Market DNM’s managers have precise data on thousands of stashes: quantity of drugs, locations, buyers’ nicknames and timeframes when dead drops are likely to be picked up (as a rule, within 24 hours as orders are automatically finalized in a day). Therefore, customers’ security is in the hands of Hydra’s staff. Reports of people arrested after taking a stash purchased on Hydra are frequent. For instance, a programmer was recently caught red-handed with MDMA. Police say they got an anonymous tip-off, stating that the suspect would carry controlled substances at a certain time and place. Obviously, either a vendor or Hydra’s admins turned him in.
False Sellers Ratings
Hydra’s pre-order sales system is pretty weird as well. Orders, which are to be delivered by mail, get automatically finalized in 3 days – too fast for a package to hit a post-box. For instance, I paid the order on September 3 and it was finalized on September 6.
After your order is finalized you are no longer able to leave a review and a vendor gets the highest possible rating (10). Therefore, most pre-order listings lack informative feedbacks. For example, users left the following comments about Psilocybe Cubensis spore prints:
- Finalizing early, hope everything will be fine;
- Waiting, my first order, hope it’ll be OK;
- Finalizing early, waiting for a package and preparing for shamanism.
The absurd modus operandi of Hydra Market offers the vendors with unlimited opportunities to scam customers without reputational impact. Moreover, users can’t evaluate the quality of products or services based on feedback from buyers.
According to the Chainalysis report, $1.2B in Bitcoin was sent to Hydra’s cryptocurrency wallets between June 2019 and July 2020. This sum is considered to be the market’s income because buyers can’t withdraw BTC. However, the real income of the DNM is much higher as Hydra accepts payments in fiat currencies via mobile cash transfers, bank transactions and e-payments. Hydra’s partners exchange money to crypto and send BTC directly to customers’ deposit addresses. I haven’t found exact statistics on fiat transactions volume but I believe it heavily exceeds the amount of transfers in Bitcoin.
Advanced users are aware of high risks associated with fiat payments and top-up their balance in BTC. However, many newbies buy Bitcoin on Hydra Market because they don’t want or don’t know how to use crypto exchanges and crypto mixers. Transactions in fiat currencies are easily tracked, that’s why the sender can be deanonymized in no time.
In my opinion, the Hydra Market is a huge factory for data mining. The market might be used to trace illicit substances supplies, to calculate illegal narcotics trade volume, to develop a database on drug users and to identify buyers. Therefore, I purchase only legal stuff on the DNM and advise you to do the same.
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