Darknet Criminals Are Selling Fiat for Bitcoin at 12 Cents on the Dollar

Samuel Haig
September 13, 2019 18:30 UTC

Armor has published its second annual report analyzing the activities of anonymous free markets operating on the dark web.

The report was compiled by Armor’s Threat Resistance Unit (TRU), which trawled 12 English and Russian language darknet markets between February and June of this year to gain an intimate understanding of the services listed on deep web marketplaces.

Armor’s researchers found cyber-criminals are offering to purchase bitcoin for as little as 12 cents on the dollar in exchange for sums of cash transferred from hacked bank accounts.

$10,000 in Stolen Cash Sells for $800 in BTC on Anonymous Markets

The trades allow cybercriminals to reap a return on stolen credit card or online banking credentials, while also shifting the associated legal risk onto the buyer.

The listings offer to sell bundles of fiat from roughly $2,500 to $10,000 in exchange for BTC, with the funds transferred via either bank wire or Western Union. Chris Hinkley, the head of Armor’s TRU team, stated:

“For those scammers who don’t possess the technical skills and a robust money mule network to monetize online bank account or credit card credentials, this is an offer that can be very attractive. The threat actors are still selling financial account and credit card credentials outright, but this clever service gives them an additional channel for monetizing the large amounts of financial data available on the underground.”

BTC Use Beats Out Privacy Coins on Darknet Markets

Although bitcoin has largely escaped its dark-web moniker, it remains the most valuable asset among cybercriminals. | Image: Shutterstock

According to Armor’s report, “Bitcoin remains the most trusted and most valuable” cryptocurrency used on dark markets.

The report attributes BTC’s lasting popularity to its relative ease of use for the victims of cybercrime when compared with more complex privacy coins, stating:

“In the case of ransomware, for example, asking for ransom in Monero or Dash would require a level of sophistication on the part of victims that simply does not commonly exist.”

Last modified: September 13, 2019 17:48 UTC