Are scammers the most inventive and smart people? The reality is that most of them are not. Research shows that 90% of online scams are weak attempts. With some due diligence the victims should not have fallen for their cheap tricks.
The deep web isn’t as bad a place as most people make out. For example to avoid a national firewall, TOR is excellent. If your country has forbidden all the pages regarding some polemic topics, like China, where they can’t access anything related to Tibetan culture. With TOR, you can break this.
Anyway during my noob days, I couldn’t tell the difference between TOR or bitcoins, and everything was a novelty. I browsed through the markets looking for cheap gift cards. I couldn’t find them on clear-net, and the different deep web markets did not have them. So I decided to try the forums.
After chatting with a few forum members, I met this person that said he could help me find the gift cards at a reasonable price. He asked for 600mbtc, I naively paid him, but unfortunately he screwed me.
I was very hurt and couldn’t sleep for several days. How could I have been trusting and stupid? I had no chance of retrieving the coins, the scammer just laughed and ignored me. It never crossed my mind once before sending him payment that I could be scammed. All that while, I thought the markets in the dark web were like amazon. You fill the forms, leave your buyer notes, pay for the items and wait for them to be shipped. I was dead wrong.
My eyes opened, and I learned a very important life lesson. I started reading different forums and it became clear that the dark net is full of scammers and con artists. It’s akin to a dog eat dog world. You either adapt as one of the big wolves, or you are left behind, to feed on scraps at the bottom of the chain. My main concern was retrieving my .6btc. I decided to fight back and beat the scammer to his game.
I created a new handle, and patiently played the long game. With my new forum account, I completed several trades with legit vendors. I received a lot of positive feedback and gained some credibility in the community. At a later date, I posted a thread about having gift-cards for sale at quarter of their value. I received a lot of private messages from interested buyers including the person that scammed me only few months back.
I ignored him, but he kept messaging me. I replied and told him that the cards were still available. He wanted the whole lot, 5btc worth of gift cards for 1btc. After plenty back and forth we settled on a price. He wanted to use escrow so I referred him to a fake escrow website I created, and to my amazement he fell for it.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some sophisticated scams out there in the deep web. I was very fortunate that my scammer is the lazy type. He sent 1btc to my fake escrow address. The sweetest thing for me was that the coins were twice their value in USD compared to when he scammed me.