From hiring assassins to buying drugs to watching livestreamed murders, it's commonly believed that you can do just about anything illegal on the dark web.
The untraceable side of the internet is a source of fascination for many, and it's birthed thousands of urban legends about the kinds of depraved activities that go on there.
But how much of it is really true?
Chris Monteiro is a cybercrime expert who knows almost everything it's possible to know about the dark web.
He says contrary to popular belief, it isn't brimming with hitmen for hire who'll take anyone out for a fee.
Daily Star's newsletter brings you the biggest and best stories – sign up today
"It's one of the most high-profile scams of the dark web," he told the Daily Star.
"There are a cluster of hitman for hire scam sites. They often claim to be a gang with killing abilities.
"There'll be an email or website conversation to provide details. The conversation either peters out or escalates to anding over money and planning the kill.
"Then there are always 'delays' which lead to requests for more money."
Eventually the mark will realise they've been scammed, but they can't exactly tell the police about what happened. So the cycle continues and it never becomes public knowledge that the famous dark web assassins are a myth.
Another urban legend of the dark web are the notorious "red rooms" — livestreams of tortures or murders.
Monteiro says popular horror films are likely to blame for the proliferation of this myth.
"People expect it to be something like out of Hostel. It's complete nonsense — for one thing the video quality on the dark web is terrible."
He added: "Not even snuff films really exist, but people insist they do."
Human auction sites, in which slaves can be purchased, also aren't real despite claims to the contrary, Monteiro says.
The same goes for rumours of dark web videos showing "gladiators" fighting to the death, or sites in which "MK Ultra brainwashed sex slaves" are sold.
Monteiro says there have been persistent claims of "human hunting" expedition packages being sold for £100,000 on the dark web, of which he's found no evidence.
What's far more likely is that these urban legends are born out of scams which target the kinds of people who are interested in viewing extreme content, charging them an exorbitant fee for which they get nothing.
Other scams target those in desperate situations, with one recent scheme claiming to be selling the "border keys to Hungary" to refugees.
People new to the dark web are often searching for "secret stock tips" or "fixed football matches" in an attempt to make a buck off information that doesn't really exist, Monteiro said.
"People don't understand the difference between the real dark web — which mostly consists of weapons, drugs and child porn — and nonsense."
Despite reports of terrorists using the dark net to plan attacks, Monteiro says there's "not much evidence" of it really happening.
"A lot of sites claim to be run by ISIS, but there's lots of evidence they're scams to take people's money. And if you do get scammed by fake ISIS, who are you going to complain to?"
That's not to say there aren't genuinely things to worry about concerning the dark web.
Data theft is a real problem, with many scams selling stolen information on to hackers who are "very hard to track down".
Phishing is also on the rise thanks to more people at home during lockdown, and guides on how to effectively scam people are traded over the dark net.
Monteiro himself is concerned about the sale of weapons online, in which guns and ammunition can be ordered "untraceably" anywhere in the world.
The teenage gunman who killed nine people in a mass shooting in Germany in 2016 bought his firearm off the dark web.
And of course, the dark web is where horrific child sex abuse images are shared most widely among communities of predators.
Monteiro says one of the biggest myths is that the dark web makes up "90% of the internet".
"It's actually a tiny circle of users. Cybercrime and scams is what it actually is."
Source: Read Full Article