Small reviews of (I think) all incremental games I've ever played on Android
I don't know if this will be useful to anyone. So I write a line or two about every game I play, and decided to find all the incremental in my game journal and post them here. It starts with the latest games I've played and I think goes back to several years back. One thing I've realized is I have such a love-hate-hate relationship with this genre since I think I've hated 90% of the games and 100% of myself after each incremental phase. I usually angrily stop playing them for a while and restart them again, so this is more or less a journal of addiction, I suppose. THE BEST GAMES I'VE PLAYED ARE THESE (no order):
Honorable Mention: Eggs, Inc The rest: more or less hated it Additional comment if you decide to scan through it, I complain a lot, so it is perfectly reasonable and normal to think, "why the fuck are you even playing these games, idiot??". ------ Time Idle RPG This game was confusing. It tells me the game's resources is time, where you get 1 of it every second, but that's not really something as unique as I assumed. It would have been cool if time as resources meant you used it to deal with something related to time. Maybe time travel? Maybe slowing and speeding time? Instead time as resource buys you stuff like a library. And then you buy a camp or something. Honestly, I wasn't really feeling it. 2 Path of Idling The biggest cardinal sin for me when it comes to incremental is when a game has a lot of features and it just completely throws them all at you instantly. The joy of a great incremental is how things slowly open up and each new achievement feels progress. The game is a RPG game and these are the things that opened up for me in the first few hours. Combat which includes normal fighting, dungeon, raid, boss, PVP (locked, but it just needs an ascend, which I haven't done) Skills Hero upgrades which include Passive (strength, defence, stamina, intelligence), Train, and a huge Tree Town which you can buy workers who get you various things like gold, orbs, knowledge, etc. You can upgrade stuff here. Quest that also includes Perks and Skill quests. Gear which 5 equipment slots, plus craft plus trade plus smelt Also gear for your Pet, which is also another tab! Now, here is the thing. Because I have all of this pretty much instantly, I don't really know which ones are helping me go past a well. How is adding 10 points in strength helping me? Should I have added five in strength instead and five in defence? I have already bought 20 or so upgrades in the Tree, but I have no idea if I am made the optimal choice. There is no real excitement with getting new gear. And so on. The dev has added a lot of features, now it's time to rework the game, and have the features take their time. 2 Idle Slayer The game is like a super simple platformer. Your character is running and any enemy it hits, it automatically slays it. There is no HP, and all enemies die in one shot. Your only active play is jumping occasionally to grab coins or hit the flying enemies. Also, you have a run skill that has a cool down. With the coins, we get new weapons that give us more coins. Enemies give us souls which is used for the prestige system that provides us with an interesting skill tree which provides a lot of choices on the path you want to do in terms of upgrades. So far excellent, however, the game has an extremely serious issue of pacing. The game initially progresses so fast that in the first hour or so, you get almost all the weapons aside from the last two, which then grinds down to a snail pace. You can upgrade your past weapons, but they never really get into play again. Reaching high levels of past weapons sometimes gave me upgrades of that weapon of 10,000% but they still did nothing to my overall coin per second. I think the pacing needs to be fully reworked. It would have been nice to get new weapons after certain prestige cycles, so that every new weapon feels like we have passed a significant wall. The best part of an incremental game for me is to face a wall, and when I finally break it, I feel powerful again for a while. This game feels like this though, powerful powerful powerful powerful WALL........break it....WALL. And so on. I'm still playing it as I want to get some of the skills, but I feel like it could have been so much better. 4 Exponential Idle A very back to the foundation kind of incremental. The premise is that you are a student and working on a formula. There is a neat story where as you progress in the game, your character progresses through university. Each upgrade gives you more and more automation until I reached a stage where I would check back once every 2 or 3 days, click a 2nd layer prestige reset, and close it. Meaning the game was something like 5 seconds of game player every 2 days. I just opened it for this review and realized I had reached the end game. The story wraps up and it tells me "You can take a rest. Travel a bit. Go outside!" NO, DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO GAME. 3 Factoid Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Spark Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Antimatter Dimensions Easily top 5 incremental on mobile. Does everything perfectly. You progress nicely, and when new features open it, not only is it rewarding but more importantly, it keeps adding new dimensions (lol) to the game. I'd at the end game as I write this, and I realize that there was no point in the game where it felt stale. Each new prestige layer made the game feel fresh and almost like a new incremental game. 5 Melvor Idle It seems this game was mainly aimed at Runescape players, which is probably why it didn't click for me. It also run extremely slow on my phone which also played a part in me not really getting into. 2 A Girl Adrift The animation is really pretty and is a nice change of pace for incrementals, but I didn't really like the too much active play. Really had to keep going back and forth to different areas to do the fishing which got too repetitive for me. You travel to different areas of the map to catch fish, which you get points and then you upgrade stuff, but I didn't really find any real excitement about the upgrades because I kept having to go back to previous areas to fish similar creatures. 3 Archer: Danger Phone I'm really annoyed how terrible of a game this was. Two things I like, the TV show "Archer" and incremental games, and it's done in the most lazy manner. The game is the worst aspect of idle games where it's just a straight path of clicking the next upgrade with absolutely zero decision making. Every once in a while there is a mini game where Archer gets to shoot others but it's done in the most basic form of early 2000s flash games, where the animation budget is probably 3 dollars. Same static background and both enemies and Archer have just two animation frames. The absolute laziness of it is almost insulting to the player, because it feels like we aren't even worth the effort. There is an Archer story in the game which develops really fast, which is the only positive part, but no voice acting is again another evidence that the creators of the game weren't given any budget for this. 1 Home Quest This game is way too slow. You have to collect materials to build your settlement but everything takes time, so you click for a few seconds, and then you have to leave the game. Which I'm fine with, but the problem isn't the idle part of it, it's how the idle part of it combines with constant checking of the game which annoys me. I like an idle game where you forget to start the game for a day, you come up to a lot of resources, but this is a game which needs you to check back in every 30 minutes or an hour to really get anywhere. I felt that the micromanagement was getting worse as I progressed (without any actual thing to do when I am active in the game) that made me give up. 2 Idle Industry This is probably an interesting game, but I gave up because the one thing I really disliked was the amount of resources and manufacturing that very quickly opens to you. You can buy raw materials, and you can either sell these raw materials or turn them into finished goods and sell them either. And each of these has several upgrade options (increase selling price, increase production, etc). Without even really getting too deep into the game, I have around 20 raw materials and around 30 finished products. A satisfying part of this genre is to have things slow open up for you, which gives me a decent feeling of satisfaction. But the money I got would quickly open up new products, so I would just jump ahead and purchase more expensive ones, and after a while I had a lot of materials and products at zero, and was instead focusing on latter ones. 2 Masters of Madness Somewhat neat atmosphere and visuals, but too much active clicking. Click, upgrade to get more per clicks, get minions to get you some points without clicking, typical clicker, but with the added benefit of almost no idling. I like idling incrementals but clickers is a hard no from me. 1 Soda Dungeon 2 Basically similar to the first one, as far as I could tell. I did "finish" it but maybe I shouldn't have, since it really is the same thing from early on, specially once you get all the heroes and you kind of sort out which characters work best, then it's just the same. But because it was somewhat short and no real wall, it was at least easy to stick to it to the end. 2 Bacterial Takeover Played for a decent amount and was actually more interesting that I thought, given the buttload of ad incentives. You create and upgrade bacteria, attack planets, and eventually go into a blackhole to prestige. Most of the game was good, but the part that killed it for me was the prestige system. Once you prestige, planets get super easy to attack, which becomes a lot of active play. I realized that each prestige was taking me at least 30 minutes to get to where I was, and it was just meaningless clicking. It got to a point where I was putting off prestige because it seemed like it would be a hassle so I stopped. 2 LogRogue Cute graphics. The hero sort of hopping to hit the tiny monsters is cute to look at, but how long can you look at it and do nothing before you realize that it's boring? I suppose this is a game where it's just not for me. I don't like to have my phone open on a game and just watch it like a crazy person and do nothing. My rule is simple for incrementals. While the app is open, be active, if there isn't any choices to make, close the app while resources build up or whatever. I don't like it being open while I do nothing. 3 A Kittens Game Incremental games are so strange. I get in and out of the phases. I loved this for so long and so obsessively that I wanted to only play incremental games. And then, just like that, I was wondering why the fuck I was wasting my time with this. Has happened countless times before. But still probably the best incremental ever. 5 A Dark Room An incremental cult classic of sorts but I don't find it really matches the genre. There is a bit of incremental at the beginning with people huts and stuff but then its just a ascii exploring game, which wasn't interesting to me. 2 Little Healer Saw it mentioned in the Reddit incremental forum in one of the posts and thought it was a healer themed incremental which sounded neat. But it's like being a healer in a raid in World of Warcraft without any if the extras. Just a couple of bars representing your team mates and you healing them while they fight the boss. I didn't even like playing the healer in WoW so no way would I play this game. 1 Clickie Zoo Started playing for a few days until I realized there a beta released with the dev reworking the game completely from scratch and releasing it as "Idle Zoo Tycoon". So, played that instead but this seemed like a game I would enjoy anyway. 4 Idling to Rule the Gods The UI and one drawing if your character is really ugly enough to be distracting to me. The game, seemed interesting and I eventually was into it, but seems like a game that has been constantly being updated, which is not always a good thing, because features are obviously updated regularly to it, making the whole thing a bit bloaty. I guess, this is the problem with this game for me, it's too fat. Also, one main part of the game is that your character creates Shadow Clones up to a maximum limit. Which is fine except the clones can't be made in offline mode. This might not be a big deal in its original web browser game but that doesn't work as well in a mobile format. 2 Realm Grinder This is one of the really popular incremental and it's fanbase seems to love it for it's depth, but to be honest, I don't play these games for the depth, I play it for the simple dopamine rush of doing the same thing over and over again. It relaxes. Although, I didn't even get to the depth part because I dislike games where it rushes in the beginning. I constantly bought buildings, got spells, and got upgrades without even looking at the description. Apparently, later on, we can get complicated race upgades, which seems not what I'm looking for in such a genre. 2 Spaceplan A short (!!) incremental with an actual story (!!!). That's two cool points for it but unfortunately, the game mechanics of increment genre isn't so good. It's a space game with nice visuals and a great ending (cool music set to cool graphics) but the game itself wasn't really that fun. This same exact game would have been better in a different genre (maybe something like "Out There"?) 3 Zombidle Felt like idle games again and this is the kind of examples that kept me away. Too much clicking and seems like advancement will start to get irritating since it relies on IAPs 2 Eggs, Inc While I was playing it, Eggs, Inc was probably my favorite Android game I had ever played. But like most incremental games, there comes a moment when I suddenly stop and think, what am I doing? Because there is something fascinating about Incrementals. Their addictiveness is in a way the whole point. An incremental is less of a game and more an act of electronic addictiveness. What's the point? Eggs, Inc is a very well made and fun incremental but even the best in its genre is still pointless. 4 Castle Clicker Supposedly a mix of incremental and city building but didn't really find out since the clickings were way to much. I know this is supposed to be the genre but I like the incremental part more than the tapping part. This seemed to be a good way to hurt your fingers. 2 Endless Era This RPG clicker game is like other such games but with horrible GUI and animations. Tap tap tap. It's my fault for downloading such games. Why would I ever think this would be fun??? 1 Idle Quote An incremental game with a unique twist. This time we get to make up quotes! The first negative about the game and this irritates me a lot is most of the quotes are fake. A quick search on Google and this proves it. Quotes are generally attributed to Buddha or Ghandi or shit like that and it's usually fake like most quotes on the internet. This kills the major possible advantage of the game because I thought coming up with arbitrary words would at least give me some quotes to learn. Aside from the this, the game isn't fun either because it slows down very quickly meaning you combine words very slowly at a certain stage of the game and then it becomes a boring grind. 2 Monster Miser An incremental game with almost no graphics. We just see character portraits of monsters which we buy and then upgrade until we buy the next monster. Eventually we prestige which gives us multipliers. The only game choice is choosing between two monsters with each new monster with unique benefits. Annoyingly there is a max limit which I wish didn't exist because I wanted to prestige so much that I would be over powerful in upgrading like that "Idle Oil Tycoon". Still, pointless but reasonably fun. 3 Pocket Politics An incremental take on politics sounds fun but it's so generic that it could have been about anything. A Capitalist idle game or a cooking idle game, it wouldn't matter. IAP was also the usual shitty kind. 1 Time Clickers A shooter incremental sounds like a cool twist but it's not a FPS like I imagined it would be. I'm just stuck in a room and I was shooting blocks. Upgrades didn't give me any enjoyment since I was shooting fucking blocks. 1 Tap Tap Fish - Abyssrium I thought this was going to be relaxing incremental but the ridiculous and generic IAPs and all the social integeration spoil it. Too much time is spent in them asking you to buy or share or tweet or post or give them a blowjob. And there is nothing relaxing about that. 2 Cartoon 999 Incremental game about comic book writers, but not the marvel DC kind, it seemed to be the webcomic one and I think it's a Korean developer so all the characters and injokes made no sense to me. The whole thing was just targeted to a very specific audience. 2 Dungeon Manager Incremental games need to be simple but this is beyond simple, it's just upgrade a fighter to level 5, go to next dungeon character, do the same, and just continue without any of the delicious balancing of upgrades like other idle games. 2 Final Fortress Incremental games are already pointless but when it's super heavy on IAP than its also annoying, but when it always has bugs that doesn't register my offline earnings, then it just needs a uninstall in its face. The zombie skin was also crappy. 1 Mana Maker Here is how I know this clicker isn't very good. It doesn't make me hate all clickers and my life and mobile gaming in general for being so addictive and pointless. So fail, sorry. 2 Infinity Dungeon The usual incremental RPG that I should probably never play again. Starts simple enough and then gets more or a chore as you play. 1 Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Dungeon 999 F: Secret of Slime Dungeon Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Tower of Hero You start on the first floor of the tower and keep fighting your way up by summoning your heroes (by clicking) and recruiting other fighters, get upgrades, level up, and then, ugh, here is the typical incremental RPG part, restart, get items, and do it ALL over again. There is something fun about restarting and getting slowly stronger each time but it also feels so pointless after a while. Such a pointless genre now that I have played a billion of such titles, heh. 3 Pageboy Yet another incremental RPG which I have no idea why I downloaded because I'm sick of the genre. I played a pageboy to a knight who does the fighting while I collect the lot. I collect the loot, buy stuff for the knight, and eventually I restart to do the same thing again and get better items but this game I didn't even RESTART! Because fuck it! Fuck it! 2 Idle Warriors The story is cute. Human population is regressing while monster population is on the rise. So the humans start enslaving monsters to mine for them! The brave warriors beat the crap out of monsters, kidnap the bosses, and enslave them. The animation of monsters slaving away while speech balloons above them talk about their wife and children is funny. But the game itself is another RPG incremental which I should start staying away from. These games are like a chore for me nowadays because I'm doing the same crap again and again. The blame is probably on me because it seems like a reasonably solid game. But hey, fuck it, I PERSONALLY didn't enjoy it. 2 Tap! Tap! Faraway! Any game that is remotely like Tap Titan scares me. They are addictive at first and very fast moving but after every restart gets more and more annoying. It soon turns into a time eating activity with the player having to redo the initial levels to get relics to get better items to progress further to restart to get relics to and so on until the player realizes how much time he is putting in the game for a repetitive activity. 2 Auto RPG Now that is a title the game developers didn't spend too much time on. RPG battles are automatic but I can help out by clicking like a mad man. I started with one hero but would get additional members in my party as the story progressed. Party members receive skills as as they level up and while all the skill usage is automatic, it did give me a sense of progression which is extremely important in a RPG and which I think is usually lacking in incremental games. It usually starts feeling useless but in this game at least there are new maps, new members, and an actual end sight! There is an infinity stage once the last boss is defeated but I am glad the infinity stage happens AFTER the end and it's not the game itself. 4 Merchant Hire a hero and send on to battle. The battles is done automatically and takes time, starts with something short like 10 seconds with each battle taking longer. The loot is raw materials which can be used to craft equipment which also takes real life time with better items taking longer. The crafted items can either be sold or equipped to the hero to make him be able to fight stronger monsters. I was worried I would hate the longer crafting and fighting times because I hate games which I have to watch for a task to finish but even though the durations for longer, I had more to do. However, I don't know what would have happened in the end game because I gave up on it. New maps were exactly like the first map just with different heroes but the progression was similar in each level which felt that I was doing the exact same thing all over again but with longer task times. 2 Idle Oil Tycoon This is the best idle game I played. It's graphics aren't just minor, they are none existent. It's just numbers, so basic that my sister thought I was on a stock market app. It's such a simple concept. Invest, get oil, upgrade then like other idlers restart to get a bonus and do the full thing all over again. When I finished the game, I played the unlimited mode which I played until the unlimited mode couldn't handle the numbers anymore. 5 Soda Dungeon This kind-of Idle Dungeon was great. I started with weak ass fighters who would fight on my behalf while I collected the loot. I then got to use the lot to upgrade the sofa bar to recruit more adventurers. Not sure why it was a sofa bar. Maybe they wanted to make it a family game and not have alcohol? Sounds weird but the sofa element in a RPG game sounds weirder. The game only hit a brick for me when, like most other incremental games, there is no real closure. Once I thought I bet the big bad guy, it just goes on, harder but similar enough with no end in sight. Eventually, we have to stop playing right, but it always feels a bit like a let down when I don't feel like I have finished the game. 4 10 Billion Wives Kept Man Life The two games from this company, 10 Billion Wives and Kept Man Life, have similar strengths and weaknesses. I liked the silly premises from both. In 10BM, I had to get married as much as I could, using the loves I collect to marry more expensive wives! In KML, I'm a boyfriend who doesn't work and I have to please my career gf so she would take care of me. Both start reasonably fast and I was willing to grind through difficult parts but the end game is like a brick wall. Passing through it to get all the achievements is pretty much impossible unless one puts in way too many hours. And it's a shame because I really wanted to get all the achievements to see all the tiny little extra stuff. 3 Adventure Capitalist One of the better incremental games, but now that I am out of the short lived incremental fan phase, I realized how dumb the genre is. Tap, tap, tap, upgrade, do this a million times, reset, and do it all over again like a moron. The game does deserve credits for me acting like a moron and playing it for so long but I also cheated and got free cash and then if occupying became even more pointless. 3 The Monolith A combination of an incremental and a civilization building game seemed like an excellent idea and in some ways, it was, specially how we get to upgrade through the ages from cavemen to futuristic. But no offline feature means that the resets aren't enticing. 2 USSR Simulator An incremental game that has a great theme (USSR!) but absolutely horrible to enjoy, even though I did stick to it. After a certain upgrades, the game just turned into me popping in the game, clicking an upgrade and then forgetting about the game for a few days. 2 RPG Clicker They should call these games tappers not clickers. We are not clicking anything on a touchscreen device. Anyway, tap tap tap level up buy weapons tap tap and uninstall. 1 Logging Quest Logging Quest 2 [Review is for the original and its sequel] There is not much of a difference between the game. I actually played them both at the same time because the actual game is offline. You choose your hero, send them to a dungeon, and then come back to the game after a while to see how well they did. I thought an offline RPG like this might be interesting but then, if you don't really play a game, how much fun can it be? 1 Another pointless incremental. I was in an incremental phase and got so many incremental games that I know realize were absolutely pointless. Hit a tree, buy upgrades, get a new hero, and continue hitting a tree. Not much offline it seems which is what I like about incrementals. 1 Galaxy Clicker A space incremental that should have been a lot of fun. You get to upgrade your spaceship and buy new ones and explorer new planets. But first of all, the interface is so ugly that it makes playing the game less enjoyable. And a lot of things I didn't really get no matter how much I would play like the full exploring planets. The spaceships were nice, so it could have been fun. 2 Megatramp A pretty pointless incremental kind of game. You are a tramp and then you can collect money to buy upgrades to make more money, with no strategy needed, nor any effort needs to be made to hurt your brain cells. 1 Inflation RPG It supposed to be some kind of incremental RPG, I think, which has you resetting and getting more powerful and then fighting monsters to get insane levels. It is very unique but I couldn't get into it. 2 Widget RPG Are you fucking with me? This is button bashing rpg in the most extreme manner. You get a widget, so you don't even have to open the game and distract yourself from the button bushing. Just click the button and the game plays behind the scenes and gets you experience, loot, and kills. It's a ridiculous idea that is fun for a few minutes to see what they come up with but there is only so much button bashing you can do. 2 Capitalist Tycoon I downloaded this game because I was in an incremental/idle game phase and really enjoyed AdVenture Capitalist. But this game is nothing like that. On the surface, it seems similar, buy small investments, make money, buy bigger investments, and so on. But with this game, there is no offline mode, and you keep having to wake up managers, AND the goal is to see how much you make in one year. Bah. I prefer the incremental approach which makes you build and build and build, not try to rush it in just a year. 2 Clicking Bad An incremental clicking game that is themed after Breaking Bad. It is a fun idea it's a very simple game with little to do aside from the obvious of upgrading and upgrading. The only twist might be to balance out making lots of money selling drugs and not attracting the law but even that is only a small challenge at the start. Eventually, you will get enough upgrades to bring the law risk so down that it makes no impact on the game play. 2 Zombie Tapper A super basic incremental clicker game with a zombie team. Click click click to eat brains, use brains (?) to buy zombies to do the brain eating for you and then buy upgrades for your zombies, and buy new zombies and it all feels very pointless. 1 Bitcoin Billionaire I started to enjoy incremental games, but it needs to have a good offline mode, because I don’t want to just play a game where I keep tapping. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t play. I played it, and I played a lot of it, because I could reset the game (like most incremental games) and it gives you a small benefit where you could finish the full game a bit faster (it gives you bonus income). So, I kept finishing and resetting, and each time the start to finish would shorten, so I thought I would reach a stage where I could finish each start-to-finish in an instant! It didn’t happen. I got bored first. 3 Tap Titan An addictive tapping game. Just tap on the creatures, level up, get new skills, hire heroes, and then reset and to it all over again to progress further. It’s an incremental game where it depends on resets to progress, but no real offline bonus, so you have to be playing online. Which got boring, so I installed an app that does the tapping for me, which is actually a stupid way to play the game, but this isn’t an attempt to prove to anyone my intelligence. Anyway, thankfully something went wrong and my progress got deleted, WHICH WAS A GOOD THING, because the game was extremely addictive. 4 God Squad I’ve realized most incremental games are stupid. Tap on monsters to kill, collect gold, buy Roman Gods, level them up, fight other monsters, and then get bored. 1
Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
LPT: If you ever find yourself caught in a social engineering scam, here are the first things you should do
A relative recently found herself having fallen for a scam. She received an email purporting to be from PayPal that her account had been compromised and used to buy Bitcoin, and that if she called the number in the email that they could help her get the purchase reversed. When she called they walked her through installing Teamview so they could remotely view her screen, and then told her to log onto her online banking to talk her through either sending them money or giving them access; not sure which was the intent. She finally snapped out of the spell of doing what she was told and called me; I had her power down her computer and immediately call her bank's fraud department to put a lock on everything until she could get things secured again. If you find yourself or a loved one in a similar situation, here is what to do:
If you get an email or text telling you that you have a problem like this to solve, never reply or call a phone number in the email message. If you get a call of this sort, do not engage with the person/robot that initiated the call. Go to your web browser, type in or search for your bank or service provider, go to their website, and call the toll-free number on their website to confirm if you have a legitimate problem to address. If you call the number in the message the person on the other end will just continue the scam if it is not legitimate.
If you realize partway into the scam that you are being scammed, hang up the call. If they have been given any kind of remote view or remote control of your computer, shut it down immediately. This will temporarily halt their access and slow or stop their ability to do more damage for now.
If you have reason to believe that your credentials for any bank or service have been compromised, immediately try to log in from a different device not involved in the scam and change your password(s) that could have been compromised. Even if they were never displayed on the screen, a keylogger could have captured what you entered.
Once you have secured any possible loss of money or control of your accounts, you can then begin to recover the use of your device (computer, phone, etc.) by removing any software that might have been installed as a result of the scam. If you feel technically proficient, there are a number of malware detection packages that can do this job for you easily (I have been using MalwareBytes for a long time for this purpose, and they offer a free tool for a one-time scan). Google searches for your OS will give you steps to follow. If you do not feel comfortable handling this on your own, then reach out to a reputable tech service professional to do the job.
Take a deep breath and don't beat yourself up for falling for a scam. The people that attempt these social engineering hacks spend all their time practicing this, and some become very proficient at preying on people's desire to be polite and helpful. They may also try to frighten or bully you into compliance. You are a victim, and you should not be ashamed. But do work to recognize these scams so you can pass them by in the future.
Source: 20 years in IT, much of which has involved at least side jobs in the IT security realm.
[Table] IAmA dark web expert, investigative journalist and true crime author. I’ve met dark web kingpins in far flung prisons and delved the murky depths of child predator forums. I’ve written six books and over a dozen Casefile podcast episodes. AMA (part 2/2)
Around here nobody talks about the argument that increased regulation of the internet would help stop child predators. Is that true, and if so where do you fall on the Net Neutrality vs law enforcement spectrum?
No I don't think that's true at all. Child predators have been around much longer than the internet, and I would argue child abuse was more prevalent 50+ years ago when children were seen and not heard and it wasn't talked about. The dark web hasn't created more predators, it has just given them a new place to gather and hang out.
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused.
the below is a reply to the above
That's so interesting, thanks for the AMA! Can you remember any other thing that a child could do in order to protect himself from being abused? What other characteristics do the abusers hate in potential victims?
That seems to be the main one. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
What do folks talk about in the child predator forums? Do they like give each other advice on how to improve their craft?
Yes, quite literally. The give each other tips on how not to get caught, how to edit out incriminating details in videos, how to drug children, techniques for convincing kids not to tell etc
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Given your insight into how predators operate, do you have any advice for parents on protecting their kids?
I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
Has the exponential increase in Bitcoin value affected darknet dealers in any profound way? I can imagine that some drug dealers were sitting on quite a large sum of Bitcoin when the value shot up.
Crypto purists hate to admit it, but bitcoin would not be where it is today without Silk Road. It was sitting at less than a dollar when Silk Road began and the markets showed a robust use case for cryptocurrency and as the markets grew, so did the demand for bitcoin. It also provided real-life use data for those who were not interested in drugs but who weren't sure if it had practical application. When SR went down, Bitcoin was at about $650 and it continued to grow as adoption became more mainstream. There are many many stories of drug dealers (and at least one faux-hitman!) who gained most of their wealth not by selling the drugs, but by the growth in value of their bitcoin holdings
Since you have a lot of experience with them online. Do you think pedophiles(not child abusers) should be treated as criminals, or as people suffering from a mental illness?
Contact offenders should be treated as criminals, because they are criminals. They have abused or hurt someone. Same with those who support the creation and dissemination of child abuse materials.
Pedophiles who do not act on their urges should be given as much help as humanly possible.
Are there any mysterious or suspicious pages or communities that you haven’t been able to access? Anything that seems especially weird?
there are a lot of Russian communities that I can't access, mostly because I don't speak Russian. Some of the more technical hacking communities have entry barriers that I'm not technical enough to score an invite to
How much these bad people really exist out there? Hundreds? Thousands? More?
It depends what you mean by bad. If you mean people who use the dark web to buy drugs (who I do not consider bad) then there are many many thousands. There are also thousands of people who deal in stolen information to make money.
Unfortunately there are also thousands of child predators and the dark web has provided a "safe space" for them to come together to share materials and "tips". I hope this is where most of the resources of law enforcement are concentrated
Ehy mine is a rare question: what do you know about art on dark web? I'm talking about the black market made of stolen important pieces from museums, art used as value to money laundry and other criminal affairs I'm an artist and what I know is people don't think too much about the dark side of art and probably they need to open their eyes about
I really haven't come across much in the way of that. Some of the markets have an "art" section, but that is mostly blotter art
How accurate are the legends?
Any legends in particular? For a lowdown copied from a post I made in another forum:
1Red Rooms ￼ The one that is most persistent is the myth of the "Red Room" - live streaming of torture/rape that ends in the murder of the victim and which people can pay to watch, or even bid to type in commands for the torturer to carry out (highest bid wins!). The most famous was the “ISIS Red Room” pictured above, where people could provide instructions to torture captured terrorists - you can read what happened here.
People have this idea of Hostel with webcams exist all over the dark web, but you just need an invite to get into them. It's ridiculous. They don't exist. They certainly wouldn't exist on Tor. But people are desperate to believe and they always come back with "You can't prove they don't exist, people are crazy, therefore they must exist." Picture my eyes rolling here.
I don't think many people are taken in by the hitmen sites anymore, though the press loves playing up the fact that there are sites offering up hitman services. But every single one of them has turned out to be a scam, especially Besa Mafia, the one that did the most marketing. Again, you can read about it at the same link as above.
3.Exotic animals ￼ People are always asking where they can find markets for exotic animals. Obviously the illegal trade in exotic animals exists, and some communications and transactions may well take place over Tor, but there are no markets like the drug markets where you can go and look at a picture and then put a tiger or ocelot or something into your basket and buy it with bitcoin.
SO WHAT DOES HAPPEN ON THE DARK WEB?
1.People buy and sell drugs.
The drug markets are more busy than ever. You have probably heard of Silk Road, the most famous online drug market that got busted a few years ago and the owner sent to prison for two consecutive life terms? A lot of people thought that was the end of drugs being sold on the dark web. In fact, dark web sales of drugs have tripled since the shutdown of Silk Road.
The reason people buy drugs this way is that for many they offer a safer alternative for people who are going to do drugs anyway. There is no possibility of any violence. The vast majority of the time a buyer knows exactly what they are getting, because of the feedback and rating system. That's not the case in a nightclub, or even friends-of-friends, where you just blindly accept that the pill, powder or tab is what the seller says it is.
2.People buy and sell other illegal things
Mostly they buy and sell stolen credit cards and financial information, fake IDs (though lots of these are scams), personal information, “dumps” of hacked data and fraud-related items. For a long time, a seller was making a fortune selling fake discount coupons that really worked.
3.People access and create childporn ￼ Unlike the other markets, the CP market is generally not for money, but rather they are groups who swap vile images and videos for free. The worst of the worst is called “hurtcore’. Thankfully, most of the people behind the worst sites have been arrested and put in jail.
4.People talk about stuff
There are plenty of sites, forums and chatrooms where people talk about all sorts of things - conspiracies, aliens, weird stuff. They take advantage of the anonymity.
5.People anonymously release information
Whistleblowers use the dark web to release information and make sure their identities won't be compromised. You will find Wikileaks, for example, on the dark web.
6.People surf the web anonymously
The number 1 thing people use the dark web for is just to surf the web completely anonymously. Not everybody wants to be tracked by advertisers.
I have a question: what are the odds of the casual Darkweb drug buyer - not buying mega loads all the time - the occasional purchase - what are the risks of being busted? Kinda figuring pretty low. But you’re the expert. What do you think?
Obviously there is always a risk, but the risk is very low. It is rare for personal amounts to be seized. Even if a package is seized, there's usually no resources to follow it up. Many people report simply receiving a letter from Customs saying they have seized what they believe is contraband and the person has a choice of going to claim it or it will be destroyed. Even if LE does knock on the door there is plausible deniability: "I don't know who sent that stuff to me".
So yeah, rare, but it does happen. You might be the unlucky one
How do you find things on the dark web without search engines?
There are a lot of entry sites, set up with links to the most popular places. You can generally get a link to one of them by browsing places like reddit. From there it is a matter of checking out different places, people will put links in forums etc.
I also use a Pastebin where people paste sites they have made/found, and a Fresh Onion site, which crawls all the newly-populated .onion addresses
Hi. there!! Thank you for answering questions. Mine is very simple. How do sellers get the drugs to people? Regular mail? That's always puzzled me bc I'd assume USPS, UPS, fedEx or any other mail carrier would catch at least some goods.
If people are ordering drugs, particularly in powder form, for personal use, they can be flattened, sealed in MBB (moisture barrier baggies) and sent in a regular business envelope, indistinguishable from billions of other envelopes going through the postal system every day. The chances of a particular package being intercepted is very low.
Some people take the extra precaution of having the person taking delivery of the drugs different to the person/household that is ordering them.
How did you move from being a corporate lawyer to researching and writing about dark web?
I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there
I've always wanted to check out the dark web, what is a normal day for you look like on there? Can you give me any tips on how to safely surf the dark web?
A normal day looks like me sitting at my desk writing things on my computer. When I'm researching a book or a case I venture away from my computer to trials and to interview people (at least I did pre-COVID)
There is nothing inherently unsafe in surfing the dark web. All the usual precautions you take surfing the clearweb apply. Don't visit any child exploitation sites - it will be pretty obvious that's what they are by the names/descriptions before you log in.
It is only when you want to do more than surfing - e.g. buying drugs etc - that you need to do a LOT of homework or you will absolutely get scammed
Is there anything good about the dark web?
It depends what you are into. A lot of academic research has concluded that the darknet markets provide a safer way for people to buy and use drugs, due to the ratings of vendors, services that independently test and report back on batches of drugs, doctor on staff ready to answer questions, no violence in transactions etc.
News sites provide a dark web option so that whistleblowers can safety provide information and upload documents that get stripped of any identifying metadata before being available.
It bypasses firewalls and allows for secure communications under hostile regimes
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How does this make you feel about the idea of the decriminalization of drugs?
I've always been for full legalization of drugs, and studying the darknet markets just proved I was right.
I was invited to an experts roundtable in Portugal about drugs and cybercrime a few years ago and the Portugal model of decriminalisation has been a great success
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Hey, you are still answering. Been reading this thread for 1-2 hours now. Thank you so much for all the good work and info! Always been intrigued by this topic, downloaded tor once to explore a bit but couldn’t and deleted it right away, to be on the safer side. Great insights. Thanks!
I've been writing it for about 14 hours. Going a bit loopy
How was working on Casefile? What's the production process like? Which episodes did u do?? I have listened to... all of them....
I absolutely LOVE working for Casefile. I am a freelancer, so I source and write my own cases and then sell the scripts to Casefile. I've done at least a dozen, but some of my most popular are Amy Allwine, Mark & John, Ella Tundra, Leigh Leigh, Rebecca Schaeffer...
As for the production process, once I have sold the script to them, a staff member edits them and then they are passed on to Casey to narrate. After that, they go to Mike for sound editing, music etc. They are the best team ever
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Oh, Leigh Leigh was so well written!! How do you choose which stories to write? Do you just pick true crime you're interested in?
Thank you! I have a huge list of potential episodes. Any time I come across an interesting crime on reddit, or in the news or wherever I make a note of it. Then I just pick one when it comes time to write a new script.
Sometimes I've been personally involved (e.g. Amy Allwine), gone to trials etc. Those are always the best ones
Hi Eiley, your twitter just reminded me of this AMA :) What are your thoughts on bitcoin? And would you prefer to be paid in crypto or fiat?
OOOOH, I know that name! Love & Light to you!
I like Bitcoin and I wish I had a whole lot of it and like many many people, I wish I had kept the first crypto I bought at something like $4 a coin :D I do not have a whole lot of it but I do have a little bit. I like the philosophy behind it and in theory it should change the world. However the reality is that the vast majority of it is concentrated in a very few hands which allows for market manipulation and stops it being useful as a post-fiat currency.
As long as I'm getting paid, I'm pretty happy!
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I too remember your name Pluto! Such a decent human ❤
he is!! True OG right there <3
Is the dark web subject to more racism than its counterpart, the world wide web?
There are some white power sites and that sort of thing and the chans are even more uncensored than the clearweb ones (4chan, 8chan) but to be honest they are the same cesspools in different spots. Drug forums don't seem to be very racist. I've seen worse on Twitter
Have you seen any consequential political or social organizing being carried out on the dark web?
Not directly, but the dark web helped facilitate the Arab Spring uprising in 2010 by allowing activists to remain anonymous and to access blocked websites and social media. Wikileaks, obviously. Some white supremacy organizations seem to use it to coordinate attacks, but they are not places I'm keen to hang out in.
What’s the most expensive thing for sale you’ve seen on the dark web? What was surprisingly inexpensive?
I can't remember specific listings, but there were sometimes sales of things like coke by the kilo, so that sort of thing I guess.
LSD could easily be found for $1/tab and one huge dealer gave it away for free if it was for personal use
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1. I’m going to ask a couple in hopes that one will catch your interest! I know you’re anonymous on the dark web, but even so, have you ever felt worried about your safety?
I actually made the decision to be upfront and honest about who I am on the dark web, so I use the name OzFreelancer (which is easily traceable to my real name) on all the dark web sites where i went looking for interviews. The people there had the option of talking to me or not, so they had no reason to want to harm me.
2. I’ve found your comments about your relationship with Yura fascinating. Did y’all develop a friendship? Did you build any other relationships that stand out in your mind? Since you were straightforward about being on the dark web for stories, did people seem reluctant to communicate, or were they excited for the opportunity to divulge a secret?
We do have a friendship of sorts, it is really quite weird. I do hope to met him one day. I met all of the senior staff of Silk Road other than the Dread Pirate Roberts himself and keep in touch with some. Some people wanted nothing to do with me of course, but many more were happy to talk to me. i think sometimes it was a relief to them to be able to talk to one person who they knew was who they said they were.
3. On violent forums, did users ever express remorse, guilt, shame, or anything indicative of some recognition that what they were viewing/seeking was awful? Do you see doxxing teams on the dark web working together to uncover info, or is the info already there through previous hacks/breaches, and someone just accesses and releases it? Sorry if any of those don’t make sense! I’m not familiar with the dark web lingo but am so intrigued by your work.
Not really. I think if they were contributing to the forums, they were comfortable with who they were and what they were doing. Many of the "regular" pedophiles expressed revulsion about Lux and hurtcore sites though
these have probably been asked before but has there ever been a time where you where genuinely been scared for your life and whats the most messed up thing you've witnessed did you have any help?
Yeah both things have been answered in this thread, so I'll cut'n'paste
The only time I've felt even slightly in danger despite all this nosing around in there was when I helped uncover a hitman scam. The owner of Besa Mafia, the most profitable murder-for-hire site in history, came after me when I started writing about him. He made loads of threats ("you don't know who I am, but I know who you are and where you live") but that wasnt scary, as I had access to the backdoor of his site thanks to a friendly hacker and knew he didn't really want to hurt anybody.
It took a bit of a darker turn when he told the people who had signed up to work as hitmen on his site - and who he made video themselves burning cars with signs on them to advertise how legit his site was, then never sent them the promised money for doing so - that I was the owner of the site who had ripped them off. That could have become ugly, but luckily even the thugs weren't dumb enough to believe him.
The only other time I've been a bit nervous was when Homeland Security wanted to have a "friendly" meeting with me on one of my trips to the US to attend a trial. They were friendly, but scary too.
The most frightening experience I've ever had is coming face to face with Lux, the owner of Pedoempire and Hurt2theCore, the most evil and reviled person on the entire dark web. He was responsible for procuring and hosting Daisy's Destruction, the most repulsive video ever made, created by Peter Scully, whose crimes were so bad, the Philippines are considering reinstating the death penalty especially for him.
It wasn't frightening because Lux was frightening - he was anything but. It was frightening because he looked so inoffensive and normal.
It was frightening because he was living proof that monsters walk among us and we never know.
It is absolute crap for browsing the clearweb, and a lot of sites detect that it is odd traffic and you have to solve their CAPTCHAs before doing the most basic things
I’m sure you’ve seen some really bad stuff, do you regularly talk to a therapist to help?
I've never seen a therapist (they don't really seem to be a thing in Australia they way they are in the US), but I have been known to unload on my partner and my dog
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Yo, speaking as an Aussie, they absolutely are a thing, you can get them covered thru medicare, and I recommend it if you possibly can! Bro, therapy is awesome.
I'm not against therapy as a thing, but I've honestly never been so traumatised that I feel I need it. Also I had a bad experience with a psychologist after I watched my partner die in an accident - they suggested I find God, and I noped out of there
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Therapist is an American term- we call them psychs. And the one who told you to find God was terrible and out of line.
Yeah she didn't last long before I was over it. Also a doctor decided I needed Xanax, which was also a bad move, because what I really needed was to grieve and Xanax doesn't let you do that properly
Do you find any good things on the dark web? Happy stuff that gives people hope? Or just the trash?
I like the psychonaut communities. They just want peace, love and mungbeans for everybody
Have you heard of "The Primarch System" rumor of the dark web? Sounds downright silly to me. But I'm curious if anyone who spends time on the deep web actually takes it seriously, or if as an idea it is connected to anything serious at all.
Nah, up there with the Shadow Web and Mariana's Web. There's always people who want to find out where the "deeper" "more secret" "really dark" stuff is. To them I say what, hurtcore isn't dark enough for you?
Doesn't delving the murky depths of child predator forums categorize you with the child predators in the eyes of an investigating law enforcement agency? Do you have some sort of amnesty due to your journalism, or is that something you worry about having to explain away? Has your presence there ever caused some sort of a scare?
No, I never went into any of the sites that had actual photos or videos (you can't un-see that shit), but did spend a lot of time in pedophile discussion forums. I also went to a hurtcore hearing and saw screenshots in the police files, as well as listening for two days to videos being described frame-by-frame and private communications between the site owner and the sadists.
Besides drugs and sex crimes, what else is going on in the dark web? Are there other interesting nooks and crannies?
I often post screenshots of bizarre sites I find on my Twitter. However, the main uses for the dark web are drugs, digital/fraud goods and child exploitation
I have one, it might be rather boring though, but here goes. On these "child predator forums" are they actually forums devoted to stalking children and do they share social media profiles of children among themselves? That would be kik ids, snapchat and facebook ids, instagram, stuff like that, info that would allow online access and that may have been chosen for suitability? Creepy question I know, but anyway I would be interested to hear your answer. I came here from TrueCrime, you referred to these things in your post on that sub. I suspect I already know the answer yet would like to hear your take on it.
Yes, they provide information and tips on how to approach children, how to ensure they won't tell, how to sedate them in some instances, where to find child exploitation material, how to remove metadata and any identifying characteristics in photos and videos before sharing and so on.
They don't tend to share socia media, as that is the sort of thing that can be traced easily. They do talk about how to approach kids on social media and on the worst forums how to blackmail children into stripping/meeting etc
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So you're saying they have a more general approach rather than identifying individual children on the internet? Again a creepy question because what I suggest is that a child's social media could be used and circulated on the dark web as potential information to gain access by anonymity, even if it was just online access only. I actually wonder as I have recently read of the anonymity of apps like ''kik messenger'' and how the police are often unable to get any information from the communications as they remain encrypted and off the server and require little if any valid ID to make an account.
No doubt photos from social media are uploaded as part of the materials they have. I haven't seen anything where they get together and try to track down a specific child, but I'm sure some predators do this. Most are more likely to abuse children in their orbit - family, kids of friends, or they work where they have access to children
I heard there are forums to download books but it was really dangerous, Is it true? I'm just a poor guy who wants to finish the young Jack sparrow series
Whenever you download anything from a pirate site you run the risk of infection
What do you think of QAnon?
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Who should the conspiracy theorists actually be worried about if they actually care about thwarting pedophilia?
The vast, vast majority of child abuse takes place within the child's personal orbit - relatives, family friends, parents of their own friends, people involved in their activities (coaches, leaders, etc)
So, those people
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Also how to we get people to stop believing in QAnon?
Outside my area of expertise, sorry
do you personally believe there was/is any truth to the "defense" (story) that DPR was a title handed down to different admins for the original silk road, or was it just a convenient defense? do you have any theories as to who satoshi nakamoto is? besides the original SR, are there any other darkweb markets that you think have a good enough story to turn into a book? eg sheep market? i've seen you talk a little about the child predator forums, and (as with h2tc) noted are mainly populated by males. i'm curious if you've ever encountered females on such forums/websites (eg. btfk)
No. There was a time that I believed the person posting on the forums as DPR changed, but the ownership and administration of the market I believe never changed hands. Variety Jones is claiming a part ownership (which may or may not be true) but I believe that is so he can run a Fourth Amendment argument
So many theories have some credibility to them, but no one theory ticks all the boxes. Highly recommend the 3-part youtube deep dive by Barely Sociable
I'm not sure any one market has the story that Silk Road had, but I would like to write a definitive history that encompasses the most compelling features of all the markets. Backopy of BMR apparently got away clean. The admins of Atlantis got wind of a security issue and closed shop, trying to warn DPR. AlphaBay ended in Alexander Cazes death in a Bangkok prison cell. Then everyone flocked to Hansa, which by that time was being run by law enforcement. Evolution ended in the most brazen exit scam, followed by a bizarre cloak'n'dagger situation played out right here on reddit. The WSM/DDW follow-the-money case. And these are just some that come right off the top of my head. I just need a publisher to provide me an advance I can live off while I write it!
There were a very few people on the forums who identified as female (obvs anyone can be anyone on a dark web forum) and there have been one or two arrests of women in relation to dark web child pornography. Peter Scully's female assistant who carried out some of the torture was originally one of his victims, turned into a sadist.
What’s the one lingering unanswered question you have about SR?
I am hanging out for Joel Ellingson to go to trial so that I can find out once and for all whether redandwhite, lucydrop and Tony76 are one and the same person.
There are several people who I got to "know" by their handles who I wonder about from time to time, but mostly I hope they are safe and well and i don't want to track them down or expose them
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Eileen, I am fangirling PRE-TTY hard right now. Talking SR and Tony76 with you is how I imagine it feels to talk to a royal correspondent about Prince Andrew 😅 Ellingson being all three would be a very neat end to an otherwise insane story. Part of me wants to pin Oracle in with that trio too but that’s mostly a desperate attempt from me to add another layer to the madness. I miss the twists and turns that came with the rise and fall of SR. From your own experience - would you agree with the idea that more than one person staffed the DPR account? Thanks for the reply!
Ha! You have no idea what it is like when I find someone who really knows about this stuff and can have informed conversations about it. I latch onto them and don't let go. The very BEST was meeting up with DPR's three deputies (SSBD in Australia, Inigo in US and Libertas in Ireland) so I could actually have conversations with people who knew more than I did! Variety Jones was cool too, but the conversation couldn't flow too freely thanks to him being incarcerated in Bangkok prison at the time.
I think others sometimes posted from the forum account, but Ulbricht kept a vice-like grip on his market account
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I can imagine it’s so satisfying and exciting to get those tidbits of info that piece the jigsaw together. The bedlam that played out over the forum in the aftermath was a cloud of paranoia and adrenaline that kept me refreshing pages for days. Would love to hear accounts from SSBD, Inigo and Libertas from this time. One last question: what were your thoughts when the Chloe Ayling story first broke?
I assumed it was a publicity stunt. I don't think that any more. I guess I can't blame her for milking her kidnapping for publicity in the aftermath, though I don't think she does herself any favors the way she goes about it sometimes
Sorry if this has been covered before but in your research, mainly related to child abuse, where are these children coming from? Children in their care/ family? Kidnapped?
The vast majority of child abuse is carried out by someone within their social circle - family and acquaintances. However, the hurtcore stuff was often carried out in third world countries on orphans or where desperate families gave up their children to "benefactors" who they believed were going to provide food an education
What Casefile episodes have you written? I became obsessed with it and ripped through all the episodes and now nothing will fill that void. Thanks for your efforts!
Casefile – the murder of Amy Allwine
Casefile – Blue Skies, Black Death
Casefile – Ella Tundra
Casefile – Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs
Casefile – Motown Murders
Casefile – Rebecca Schaeffer
Casefile – Sian Kingi
Casefile – John & Mark
Casefile – Shauna Howe
Casefile – Chloe Ayling
Casefile – Johnny Altinger
Casefile – Killer Petey
Casefile – The Santa Claus Bank Robbery
Casefile – Martha Puebla
Casefile – Leigh Leigh
Is there any way parents can keep their kids safe from this without being helicopter parents?
I'll cut'n'paste a response i gave to someone else about this, because it was something that really stuck out to me:
The one thing I found really interesting when I was lurking the forums of the child predators was their frustration about how children are now taught from a very young age that certain touching and acts are wrong and that they shouldn't keep certain secrets. It came up over and over again that they could not abuse certain children because they knew those children had someone they would tell. It was pretty clear that education was a child's best defence against getting abused. Kids who speak up and who have close relationships with one or more people they are likely to confide in
What does it take in terms of degrees and experience to get into this business?
Nothing official. I was a lawyer, but that had no bearing on what I do now (I did corporate law). I didn't have any official credentials when I began as a freelance journalist, though later I got a diploma of professional writing and editing. Anyone can be an author, provided they can write
If you could take a guess from your findings, what would be some speculative statistics on these abuse/torture sites? How many people (tens of thousands?) are involved? Do they generally come from the same places in the world or are they seemingly geographically random (based on victim ethnicity, or language spoken, perhaps)... what are some quantifying stats to wrap our heads around how prevalent this shit is?
Most dark web users come from western countries, just because infrastructure supports it. The sites often have tens of thousands of registered users, but a lot of them would be people for whom curiosity got the better of them and who signed up then left. Active users more like in the thousands, hyper-active users the hundreds.
One of the things that makes life difficult for law enforcement is that most of these sites don't operate on a commercial basis - people aren't making money from them, so there is no cryptocurrency chain to follow. They operate on a sharing basis and to get access to the more private parts of the sites, a user has to upload "fresh" material and/or prove they are actively abusing a child. Hurt2theCore used to get users to have the children hold up signs or have the site name or a username written on their bodies with a marker. This stopped law enforcement from getting access to those parts (like the "producers lounge") of the sites unless they were able to take over an account of a user who already had access. Even then, the rules of the hurtcore sites would require constant new proof in order to maintain access.
Some sites allowed people to buy access, such as one called "Welcome to Video" and then were taken down by law enforcement carrying out blockchain analysis of the Bitcoin transaction that led to the owner when they cashed out to fiat without moneylaundering precautions
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Do you think LE uses deep fakes to simulate a picture to gain access? Is that possible?
It is definitely possible, but I don't know whether they are doing it as they are understandably secretive about their methods. I know it is deeply problematic, as even fake child porn is still illegal (even cartoon stuff, including some Hentai in some countries). But they have used questionable methods before, most notably running the dark web's largest site, Playpen, for over a year in order to identify contact offenders
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Am I hearing you that many people are NOT doing this for financial gain? Just to do it and share it??
Child exploitation, yes, it is mostly a sharing community. Some people make some money out of it, but it is not like drugs where a lot of people are making a LOT of money
On the subject of abused kids... did you ever help the kids in any way?
I never met any of the kids. I never saw any of the photos and videos. I don't know who any of the kids are.
Daisy has been taken into care and her identity changed. I hope she is doing okay
What exactly does the dark web look like? You hear about it often, but don’t know if it looks like Google Chrome, Safari, or just a page full of code.
It looks like a normal browser and operates just like a normal browser. It's just that it can access sites that your normal browser can't.
How do you keep yourself from hating all humanity?
I am happy to report that, even on the dark web, the good people outnumber the bad
Hi! First off I'd like to say that I find what you do quite fascinating and would love to do something like that in the future. My question is in regards to art and other forms of artistic expression on the dark web. Is it true that the dark web is a place where you can also find awesome things such as art and literature?
Not really, because all that stuff is readily available on the clearweb. There are sites like the Imperial Library of Trantor, which is a pirate site for books, where you can read thousands of books for free, but that's really no different to The Pirate Bay. Some people share their LSD art, but again, nothing you won't find on the clearweb
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Deep Web and Dark Web are the most frequently discussed topic these days. While the terms Deep Web and Dark Web are often used interchangeably, both of them differ though. The Dark Web is just a small portion of the Deep Web making up only 0.01% of it. One of the major differences between the Deep Web and the Surface Web is that the Deep Web is slightly more protected and not indexed while the ... It also has some of the unique features of mining with free mesa/LLVM OpenCL, integrated overclocking, fan control, and ADL device reordering by PCI bus ID. Top 5 Bitcoin Generator Tools 4. BTCMiner. BTCMiner is an open source bitcoin generator developed for ZTEX USB-FPGA modules 1.5. The dynamic frequency scaling feature in this generator chooses the frequency with the highest rate of valid ... When Bitcoin forked into Bitcoin Cash, the platform started a faucet for giving away Bitcoin Cash for free (almost). All a user has to do is, go to PlayStore (Android), Appstore (iOS), or Windows Store and download the official Bitcoin.com app. Bitcoins – The deep web currency. Bitcoin is the biggest cryptocurrency network. I have mentioned it as a deep web currency because most of the deep web transactions take place through only Bitcoins. Why d eep web users use bitcoin? – It is because bitcoin is not associated with any country or company and one can’t find who is paying or receiving the bitcoin. G2links Directory. We have ... Tag: how to earn free bitcoin in deep web. Latest videos . Latest videos Most viewed videos Longest videos Popular videos Random videos. 54 13:57. 100%. How to Earn Free Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) 93 06:57. 100%. How To Earn Bitcoin in 2019. Categories. 1 Free Bitcoin; Earn Free Bitcoin; Free Bitcoin; Free Bitcoin Faucet; Free Bitcoin Mining; Free Bitcoin Spinner; Free Bitcoin Wallet ...
How to Swipe/Scam Like Teejayx6 Part 3 Methods on Dark Web "Education Purposes Only" (SCAM SERIES) - Duration: 10:45. DᴇxCʟᴀɴTᴠ Recommended for you 10:45 Bitcoin is the preferred form of payments on the Dark Web. After this lecture you should understand why. This is a promotion video for The Crew Shop on the Deep Web. Credit Cards, Gift Cards, Money Transfer Apple iPhones / Macbook, Hacking Service and more.. Credit Card with 2500$ balance for 250 ... In this video I'm doing something completely different. This video is for educational purposes only to raise awareness for the danger on the internet. Want t... Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.