Psst. Looking for some “white plastic?” If you are, then you’re trucking in ivory, the sale of which is illegal in many countries and U.S. states. “White plastic,” “jelly,” “yellow materials” are all code words used by online “marketers” of ivory, as they attempt to hide the illegal nature of what they are doing.
The use of code words is just one method crooks and scammers use to sell their products and hide in plain sight from authorities, using the resources of the internet, from search engines to payment systems.
The “hiding” part is what should worry us; by burying themselves in the hundreds of thousands of e-commerce sites out there, bad actors are able to peddle drugs, guns, child pornography, and many other illicit, illegal, and dangerous things that they can find markets for. And their potential customer base on the surface web is much greater than on the dark web, with customers on the former using common payment methods to pay for their goods, as opposed to the cryptocurrencies usually required to do business on the latter.
- Nearly 620 million stolen accounts for sale on dark web
- Bitcoin’s slipping as dark web looks to crown a new king of the cryptocurrencies
- 35 million voter records sold on the Dark Web
Stopping this is important; what if it was one of our kids who got hooked on opioids, for example, because a friend who introduced them to drugs was able to easily obtain them online, using their parents’ credit card?
How crooks hijacked the web
In the ivory sale scam, sellers take out banner ads and text ads featuring their code words, enabling those seeking these illicit goods to find them using standard search engines, according to an organization called Traffic, which seeks to curb illegal trade in wildlife. According to the group, dozens of sites are selling illegal wildlife products including ivory, rhino horn, tiger bone, hawksbill shells, and pangolin scales, all using code wo