CrypTrust - Role of Trust between Buyer and Vendor on Dark Web Firearms and Drug Markets in British Columbia

Grant Agency: Office of Crime Reduction and Gang Outreach (OCR-GO)’s Crime Reduction Research Program

Awarded: 2021-2022

Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Frank

Co-Principal Investigator: Ashleigh Gonzales

Research Assistants: Noelle Warkentin, Shu Qi Liu

Cryptomarkets are anonymous, online marketplaces that connect buyers and vendors for the sale of illicit goods and services. These marketplaces mediate between vendors and buyers, playing the role of a trustworthy third party that users believe will be fair. This gives vendors and buyers the confidence to trade with one another despite the inherent anonymity of users on cryptomarkets. Vendors and buyers are able to trade products such as firearms and drugs without express trust in each other because they trust in the cryptomarket. Despite the growing body of literature on cryptomarkets, there has been little research on cryptomarket users and their social interactions or demographic behaviour. This research will focus on cryptomarket users in the Canadian context.

A survey will be distributed to vendors and buyers to learn about their decision-making processes, distinguishing qualities, and circumstances as individuals or as an organization. The primary aim of this research is the data-driven development of a trust matrix and threat model with a focus on vendors and buyers within British Columbia. This research will take place over the course of a 12 months, from March 2021 to February 2022.