Cybersecurity companies Flashpoint and Chainalysis presented a joint report on the operation of the underground marketplace Hydra.In 2015, immediately after the launch, Hydra was known as a drug trading platform, but over time, the resource has expanded and has long been selling a variety of illegal goods and services, including stolen card data, fake documents, counterfeit money, hacker services and much more.
The researchers write that over the past three years, Hydra has grown by about 624% over the year, which ultimately made it one of the most popular criminal marketplaces today. Marketplace transaction volumes are also growing year by year. So, if in 2016 the site’s turnover was about $9.4 million per year, now it has reached $1.37 billion per year.
Researchers attribute the success of Hydra to a number of factors. One of them is strict resource rules. For example, as of summer 2018, a merchant must complete at least 50 successful trades before being allowed to withdraw funds. User will also need to have a wallet containing at least USD 10,000.
When it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges that process Hydra transactions, these are mostly so-called “high-risk” resources that ignore Know Your Customer (KYC).
In total, there have been over 1,000 unique deposit addresses and over $7 million in transactions reportedly linked to Hydra.
Withdrawals are carried out through payment services and exchanges, “exclusively or predominantly based in Russia and in the Russian-friendly countries of Eastern Europe,” the report says. In addition, Hydra requires sellers to convert their profits into fiat currency, namely Russian rubles.
Interestingly, despite the strict rules, Hydra accounts themselves are in high demand. According to experts, this has even created a separate market associated with gaining access to the existing accounts of sellers, and there are also frequent cases when users try to bypass the site’s requirements for withdrawing fiat currency. This can cost up to $10,000 on the black market.
Let me remind you that I wrote that Experts traced DarkSide group bitcoin wallets.
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