Illegal Websites have created a new, dark underworld on the Internet that many users don't even know about.
So before you start indiscriminately clicking onto websites out on the world wide Web, make sure you get at least a bit savvy about the risks and dangers lurking out there.
As we've said before... not everyone out there is your "friend".
Illegal websites harbor a criminal world that dwells on the "hidden internet".
This video by Channel 4 News exposes the "hidden web... You won't find it on any internet search
engine... this is a netherworld of secret websites used by criminals to buy and sell drugs,
exchange pedophile images, and shift stolen goods...
It exists below so many layers of security its users are nigh impossible to trace... These websites are not found on the open web, you need special software (like Tor or JonDonym) to access them".
What is Tor?
Tor is special software designed to keep a user's online identity anonymous.
Short for The Onion Router, it consists of layers of encryption which take data and encrypt it, then re-encrypt it many times as it is sent through successive Tor relays making it extremely difficult to unscramble the data or determine a user's location or identity.
Tor was developed around 2004 and was originally sponsored by the US Naval Research Laboratory (ref: Wikipedia).
On the good side, it is credited with allowing dissidents in suppressed countries to act while maintaining their privacy and anonymity. On the bad side, it appears cyber-criminals and terrorists have been quick to exploit it and use it cover up their illegal activities.
What is Bitcoin?
Jerry Brito of George Mason University discusses Bitcoin with Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox Business' Freedom Watch.Aired Nov. 27, 2011 on the Fox Business Network.
There is a whole dark new underworld out there on the internet that most honest citizens aren't even aware of.
Underground Websites that let you buy or accommodate any vice imaginable.
Banking closures in Cyprus and the loss of investor and depositor savings has seen a mad rush to Bitcoin, the world's first successful digital currency... the attraction being, the "virtual" currency is presently beyond the reach of regulators and desperate financial institutions.
In September 2010, 1 BTC was worth US6.5 cents. At the start of January 2013 one Bitcoin was trading for US $13.50... but by April 7th 2013 had skyrocketed to an astonishing US$187... Up 1,285% in just 14 weeks... US$1,000 invested in Bitcoins at US6.5 cents would now be worth $2.8 million.
"Bitcoin Is No Longer a Currency" writes Mathew O'Brien in The Atlantic after the "virtual currency" soared to US$265 April 10th, then crashed to US$105, before recovering to US$180 the following day then down to US$120 again when trading was halted... down 53% intra-day.
"There's one thing it's not: a currency. It's a tech stock. The question is whether it's Pets.com or Paypal".
In September 2010, 1 BTC was worth US6.5 cents... At the start of January 2013 one Bitcoin was trading for US $13.50.
US$1,000 invested in Bitcoins at US6.5 cents would have been worth over US$4 million at the $265 peak... up 4,000%...a bubble perhaps?
The BBC broadcast below reveals that opportunistic criminal groups are extremely adaptable and plan well ahead when setting up illegal websites, especially with events like the Olympic Games.
A network of fake Olympic websites has sprung up to cash in by selling fake tickets to sporting events... "Many (criminal gangs) bought the web addresses (for their illegal websites) 7 years ago, before London even won the Games"BBC London News, 16 February 2011.
In 2010 authorities around the world co-operated in Operation Flicker to shut down a child pornography ring that spanned 132 countries, and involved 30,000 customers and over 230 illegal websites.
Those arrested included teachers, church clergy, police officers, doctors and attorneys.Uploaded by abc15com on Sep 21, 2010.
On April 15th, 2011 the U.S. Government cracked down on 5 illegal internet poker sites including three of the largest and most popular... Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and Poker Stars.
The FBI indicted 11 people on charges of fraud, money laundering and illegally operating online gambling sites. Prosecutors also filed a $3 billion civil suit to recover profits from the companies.
On December 20, 2011 one co-founder of Absolute Poker pleaded guilty to misleading banks and is likely to spend 12-18 months in jail.
On January 17th, 2012 a payment processor also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and will most likely be sentenced to 18-24 months in prison (ref: Wikipedia).April 18, 2011.
Bogdan, one of the world's most popular gambling sites was shut down February 29th, 2012 by U.S. authorities. Bogdan's billionaire owner, Canadian Calvin Ayre, was charged with online gambling and money laundering.
Ayre and 4 others have been implicated in paying out up to $10 billion of illicit winnings to gamblers and face possible jail terms of up to 25 years.Uploaded by CBCTheNational on Feb 29, 2012.
ICE special agents seized more than 42,692 items of fake NFL merchandise valued at almost $5 million and seized 307 illegal websites during 'Operation Fake Sweep' in the run up to the XLVI Super Bowl (46th).
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nationwide enforcement operation targeted stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear throughout the country.
Special agents and officers also targeted illegal counterfeit imports into the United States, and seized hundreds of websites engaged in counterfeiting and piracy online.Uploaded by www.ice.gov on Feb 21, 2012.
"Reuters reports that 82 websites selling counterfeit and pirated goods were shut down on Monday in a move that was timed with the start of the online holiday shopping season.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, "As of today... what is known as 'Cyber Monday' and billed as the busiest online shopping day of the year... anyone attempting to access one of these websites using its domain name will no longer be able to make a purchase."
The crackdown was aimed at counterfeit retailers, including sports equipment and apparel, shoes, handbags, sunglasses and illegal copies of DVDs, music and software.
Visitors to these sites are greeted with a message declaring the domain name had been seized by federal law authorities and warning that buying counterfeit goods is federal crime with penalties of up to 10 years in jail and a $2million fine."
*P.S. Over 130 illegal websites were seized in a similar operation in 2011.Uploaded by TradeTheTrend on Nov 29, 2010.
STREAMING THEFT is a form of online content theft that lets users view unauthorized copyrighted motion picture and television content on demand, without downloading the illegal file. Users generally visit illegal websites that either host the streamed content or provide links to content hosted on other websites.
"Both hosting unauthorized content and linking to unauthorized content hosted on other websites is illegal".... (Motion Picture Association of America).
There are many illegal streaming sites which entice users to buy "subscriptions" or "memberships" and which often feature advertisements for legitimate products or services alongside this illegal streaming of unauthorized movie and television content.
They may use trademarks and cover art of well-known studios and distribution companies or provide a plot summary of a movie or a list of the cast of characters. Website operators of these illegal sites purposely use these techniques to fool consumers into believing that their websites are legal... "that's how they make a profit. It's called fraud and theft" (MPAA).
Phishing is a scam carried out where fake emails (supposedly from a bank or trusted corporation) are sent to users in an attempt to lure them to a phony website set up to mimic the authentic one.
Unsuspecting customers are then tricked into divulging credit card or bank account numbers, or other financial details which will then be used to steal their assets or identity.Recognizing Phishing Scams:
Scammers have been sending fake emails since before 2005 claiming to be from the FBI with the message...
"You visit illegal websites. We have logged your IP-address on more than 40 illegal websites".
... and demanding the recipient click on a link and "answer certain questions".
The computers of those who fall for the scam are then hit with a malicious virus such as Mal/Bredo-K, Trojan.Zlob.2.Gen, or Trojan/BredoZp-DM.
"London - An al-Qaida inspired computer expert who dubbed himself "the jihadist James Bond" was
imprisoned for 10 years for running a network of Web sites and hoarding videos of the murders of Americans
Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl.
... he had uploaded guides to building suicide vests on the Internet and was a leading distributor of terrorist material... details of how to make car bombs, cause explosions and produce poisons (were found on his) computer hard drive.