Nicholas Christin and Kyle Soska wrote a paper on “evolution of the online anonymous marketplace ecosystem” trying to determine the origin, how much the users make and lastly their decline. Nicholas is an assistant research professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Kyle Soska is a Ph.D. student.
Through their research, they found out that the sites were collectively making between $300,000 and $500,000 per day and the highest amount of money that was made in a single day was $650,000before “Operation Onymous”. Nicholas found that when Silk Road was very successful it was making $400,000 in a single day. Sites like Agora Marketplace would rake in $500,000.
However, most dealers on the darknet markets don’t make that kind of money. It was reported about 70% of sellers were not able to sell products worth $1,000. It further said that only 18% managed to sell between $1,000 and $10,000. And only 2% of sellers were able to go past the $100,000 mark. The reason for this is that the top 1% accounted for half of the volume of contraband that was transacted.
The smaller sellers only make $1,000 because it is harder for them to make a name out there for themselves and market their products due to the anonymous nature of the websites. The top 1% sell more drugs than the others because they are well-known and they have used the websites for a longer period of time. Thusthey are well established.
Nicholas and Kyle’s report that the most common drugs being sold – cannabis and MDMA (ecstasy) which made up 25% of sales. Cannabis used to make up to 50% of the volume transacted when one of the markets was shut down or a crime had been committed. This is because the users knew that it had a lesser penalty than the other drugs. On normal days, other stimulants were about 20% of the volume.
They also collected information on how much feedback sellers received from customers on their purchases on darknet sites like Agora marketplace.