The turnover of illegal goods in the darknet can be fought with the help of ... negative reviews

Buying online is always fun. The range of products is greater than in any of the offline stores, plus when choosing goods, you can read reviews about the product and its seller. The higher the rating, as a rule, the more buyers trust this seller. The lower, respectively, the less trust there is, and consequently, fewer orders. The laws of the market has not been canceled, and they work online as well as offline.

Sometimes, however, it also happens that competitors begin to "crush" their rivals with not entirely legal methods. For example, with the help of negative reviews. Either people who systematically leave bad reviews about products and sellers are hired, or bots are involved in this work. These are dirty methods that are condemned by all market participants, but they work well. But what if you use these dishonest ways of reducing the reputation of a competitor in relation to sellers of illegal goods like drugs and weapons?

It is possible that negative reviews, if there are many, will scare away potential buyers of products of this kind. In any case, a group of scientists from Ohio University, USA, thinks so. Of course, this method of dealing with the circulation of arms and drugs should not be the only one. But as an auxiliary tool, it can be very effective.

Americans led by Scott Dukesbury conducted a study , the results of which are published in the authoritative edition of the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. Also, the scientists reported on the results at a conference in Montreal last Saturday. In the course of the study, researchers analyzed links between 57 opioid sellers and 706 buyers. As it turned out, 82% of buyers who buy something for the first time, leave feedback on whether to trust the seller or not. They also leave feedback on the quality of the goods and report in the reviews whether the price of the goods is adequate.

The best sales go to those sellers whose ratings are higher - all the same as on eBay, Amazon and other sites with legal goods. According to American scientists, sellers of drugs and weapons on darknet can be fought with feedback. If you start to leave a lot of negative comments, it may well affect the turnover of goods from a particular seller. He will no longer be trusted and sales will decline. “The most effective way to reduce the traffic of narcotic substances in Tor is to deliberately underestimate the reputation of sellers. For example, law enforcement officers, buying something in very small batches, will be able to leave negative reviews, ”says the work of scientists. “It doesn't take a lot of money, but it can stop the growth of marketplaces.”

The study also mentions that only 18% of buyers who have already acquired something on a specific site return there for a second purchase. And only 30% of those who returned are buying something again. Thus, if the buyer, planning to purchase something for the first or even the second time, sees a negative reputation from the seller, he is likely to refuse to buy.

The problem with this method of combating illicit drug and arms trafficking may be that marketplaces usually do not work as a dedicated unit. This is most often an interconnected grid of sites, the system is decentralized. But many sellers here can be related. And if several key “figures” get out of the game, this can damage the entire system.

“In drug trafficking, roles are usually distributed among key players, and resources are limited. If you can remove these players, it can reduce the size of the market, ”scientists say.

Probably, law enforcement can use the proposed method. Policemen from different countries are trying to fight marketplaces like AlphaBay or Hansa Market with non-standard methods. For this purpose, “podsadnye servers” are used, when the police take control over the sites on the darknet, but do not close them immediately in order to be able to get more information about sellers and buyers. In the case of Hansa, that's exactly what happened . Well, with the services and resources, the management of which is still impossible to intercept, the police can easily fight with the help of other methods, including negative reviews.


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