Marketplaces on the Dark Web
Forgeries have pride of place among the products sold on the dark web. Few marketplaces do not contain one or more counterfeiters. The most common forgeries are fake banknotes, fake identity papers, a wide variety of fake administrative documents, and counterfeit luxury goods.
1 – Fake banknotes
The dark web offers counterfeit versions of some of the most common currencies: euro, dollar, yuan, pound sterling, etc. Vendors sell fake banknotes in marketplaces or individual shops, such as the following vendor.
All counterfeiters boast about the quality of their forgeries. The fake bills are sold as is, and buyers are fully aware of the risks they incur. We assume that some counterfeiters also have other means of selling their products. One site claims to sell genuine banknotes that were taken out of circulation and stolen by an inside team prior to their destruction.
Buy Real Money home page
Even if this site is not an outright scam, which seems unlikely (it has more than 1,800 dubious copies or scam mirrors), and it does send cash to buyers, there is a good chance the banknotes will be fake.
2 – Fake papers and documents
Fake documents are a hot commodity on the dark web. Passports are the most common, but a variety of identity documents can be bought, such as ID cards and driving licences.
Forgeries of administrative documents are also available, as seen in the following two screenshots.
Fake payslips are most often used for consumer credit applications. Some counterfeiters even offer special packages for these applications, including scans of all the necessary documents. These packages may include a mix of real and fake documents, such as genuine payslips obtained from stolen data.
A forger’s advert on the Trollodrome
3 – Others
Vendors offer an impressive variety of documents, such as fake diplomas, prescriptions, and vehicle registrations.
And of course, forgers predictably responded to the pandemic by producing fake vaccine passports.
Sale of a fake vaccination certificate
Fake documents are most often sold in physical form, but some counterfeiters also sell Photoshop (PSD) files that allow buyers to modify the information at will and produce one or more images that look like scans of an ID document.
Vendor of Photoshop files for fake ID scans
4 – Luxury goods
Counterfeit luxury goods are not that common on the dark web, probably because they are easy to acquire in more traditional ways (street vendors, clear web vendors, etc.). In the past, the dark web did feature some individual vendors, such as the defunct Replica Watches site, which specialised in luxury watches.
Replica Watches home page
Now luxury goods vendors are more likely to operate in marketplaces, where replicas of name-brand goods are sold.
As we can see, the sale of forgeries is very widespread on the dark web. Onion sites are certainly not the biggest threat to luxury goods since the supply on the dark web is relatively small. But the sale of counterfeit documents seems to be very common and could pose a threat to governments or credit institutions.