Wired interviewed the (anonymous) head of the Russian Anonymous Marketplace (RAMP), a popular dark net drug marketplace exclusive to Russians only. Their correspondence took place over RAMP’s private messaging system and was encrypted by Tor.
Ideologically, the site does differ somewhat from Silk Road and its ilk. RAMP wants users to get right to business, and all political rhetoric, including the ultra-libertarian variety found on Silk Road, is prohibited.
The site also prohibits the sale of weapons, stolen goods and pornography.
Dealers pay $300 monthly for a prime spot on its homepage, and $1000 monthly for a “license” to sell cocaine, hash and amphetamines.
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The head administrator, nicknamed “Darkside,” says that it caters to Russian clients only. He believes that this business decision has ultimately saved it from investigators, who last month raided and shut down a number of dark net sites including Silk Road 2.0. Authorities in Russia ostensibly differ from their American counterparts by turning a blind eye to (certain types) of online crime. Darkside said:
“We never mess with the CIA, we work only for Russians and this keeps us safe. You can’t rape the whole world and remain safe.”
Researchers believe that Tor’s anonymity may have been cracked, and the only reason why some sites continue to remain up and running is because they are hosted in countries like Russia whose authorities will not collaborate with those in the US. Darkside is skeptical, however, if Tor’s protection has really been cracked.
Darkside says he was inspired by Silk Road’s model (notwithstanding the aforementioned ideological differences), calling it “a masterpiece.” RAMP’s current model is more of a forum than an e-commerce platform. Participants find each other and then take their dealings “off-site” to an encrypted chat system. Darkside is planning, though, to enhance the site into an automated, Silk Road-like platform with bitcoin continuing as the currency of choice. He also plans on building a bitcoin and litecoin-based gambling site.