Financial crime online: Dark Web vs Surface Web

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August 23 2017

The media is swamped with mentions of the evil called “The Dark Web”. And evil indeed it is. After the conviction of Ross Ulbricht – the ringleader of the notorious Silk Road website, law enforcement has concentrated it’s attention on drug trade, human trafficking and hacking communities in the dark web.

However, illegal products and services thought to be exclusively available on the dark web, are quite often easily accessible through the familiar surface web, due to a scheme known as transaction laundering. By funneling illicit ecommerce payments through a legitimate merchant account, criminals are able to process payments for illegal goods and services out in the open. Merchant Service Providers and legitimate merchants, often unknowingly, end up facilitating online trade in illegal goods, exposing themselves to penalties and legal liability.