Russian dark web marketplace Hydra cryptocurrency transactions reached $1.37bn in 2020
Flashpoint and Chainalysis have released a joint report that investigated Hydra, a marketplace on the dark web. The report found that the marketplace’s transaction rates have surged, creating a thriving criminal ecosystem. Hydra has been known for the illegal sale of narcotics since its 2015 inception. However, Hydra now boasts a list of illegal goods and services, including stolen credit card data, counterfeit documents such as fake IDs, fake banknotes, cyberattack services, and more. Buyers use cryptocurrency to purchase goods and services through Hydra as the currency is more difficult to trace. According to the report, Hydra’s annual transaction volumes have claimed year-over-year, increasing from $9.4 million in 2016 to $1.37 billion in 2020.
Chainalysis and Flashpoint estimate that Hydra has grown by roughly 624% year-over-year, making it one of the most popular criminal marketplaces on the dark web as of right now. The market only serves Russian speakers and has managed to avoid more than a short period of downtime or seizure by law enforcement. Hydra also has strict seller requirements, as operators demand that at least 50 successful sales are made before withdrawals are allowed, meaning that the seller may not access profits until the sales are completed. Sellers also must maintain an eWallet account containing at least $10,000.