back to article Australian Feds cuff woman who used BTC to buy drugs on dark web

Australia’s Border Force (ABF) has warned that “people shouldn’t assume the dark web is invisible to Australian agencies” after cuffing a woman who bought illicit drugs using Bitcoin and had them shipped from the UK to Australia. The ABF chose Friday the 13th of April to announce that a woman had run out of luck after she “ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Either that or

    Officer Wags sniffed it out at a parcel centre....but this makes a great bluff.

    1. Grikath

      Re: Either that or

      Or the shipment address in the UK was already suspect, or... plenty of ways to get caught shipping Naughty Stuff from the UK to Oz, using the Dark Web or other means.

      Although there's BTC in the story, I doubt they got her by tracing the transaction itself.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Either that or

        It might be a bluff or not. There's so many variables here including the seller or even "friends" of the buyer that either copped a plea or were undercover. They might have been watching a couple of doggy sites an sorting out where the buyer was.

        I don't know about Australia but here in the States, the cops have to be prepared to disclose exactly where and how they gathered evidence so the Bitcoin transaction might have to be explained if it was tracked. Same for the dark web.

        The end result at this point is that a lot of drug dealers and buyers will looking over their shoulder ans sweating blood if they try using the web for their drugs.

        1. Paul Johnson 1

          Re: Either that or

          "here in the States, the cops have to be prepared to disclose exactly where and how they gathered evidence".

          Unfortunately in the new world of "parallel construction" that is no longer the case. The DEA routinely arranges events such as traffic stops in order to create a version of the story that will pass legal muster.

          1. Hans 1

            Re: Either that or

            parallel construction

            Yeah, USian cops need to be creative, UK cops do not have disclose anything, except the [possibly fabricated] evidence, of course. Thank you ever so much, Mrs May.

            Then again, the US has secret courts that require neither parallel construction nor the constitution ...

            Icon: closest I could find to a judge

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Either that or

        "Although there's BTC in the story, I doubt they got her by tracing the transaction itself."

        I expect nearly all BTC transactions to be inherently traceable based on the public nature of the blockchain itself. Even doing everything over Tor and moving between different sites unconnected to himself didn't keep Russ Ulbricht out of prison. He was arrested in a public library in such a way that his laptop was kept running, enabling its secrets to be made available for law enforcement. Tor also has its vulnerabilities including the fact that those who surveil its use are likely to be running an interestingly proportion of the nodes.

        1. Hans 1

          Re: Either that or

          didn't keep Russ Ulbricht out of prison

          He's in jail because he did not read:

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Either that or

      My thoughts as well, when law enforcement boast of being able to monitor something it isn't in their interest to allow the users to know because they move to something else whereas if they struggle it's best to get people off it. My money is on the dealer in the uk getting caught and a list of customers lifted and this one passed over to Australian cops.

    3. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Either that or

      Officer Wags sniffed it out at a parcel centre....but this makes a great bluff.

      Having seen those 'border guards' shows I am surprised anything illegal makes it through, except by luck or when they want to allow it so they can catch supplier and buyer red-handed in the next deal.

      I expect this is just 'good old fashioned policing' with some sprinkles on top intended to deter those who think there are ways they can keep themselves safe from prosecution.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Either that or

      Cops lying?

      I'm shocked.... shocked I tell you.

  2. Ronome

    Mafia don't like competition...

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Because both are island states at the bottom of the world with only scheduled air links, no ferries, no bridges it is VERY hard to mass import drugs into those places. Coke is incredibly rare, expensive and crap quality in NZ for eg. As a consequence there has always been a homebrew scene and why Crystal Meth ('P' in the local parlance) is big and of course because it grows well in the climate cannabis but not much else. Not many non doctor opioid injecting addicts in NZ.

      There is however a thriving cottage industry in decontaminating P-houses, domestic dwellings used to cook it up. Also companies which will contamination test a property as part of the purchase system, like getting an engineer report and an energy efficiency report.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I am reminded...

    of the classic quote (Ben Franklin?): Two people may keep a secret... if one of them is dead.

    It's lovely logical problem: how do you identify yourself as a black hat, to another black hat, without alerting every white hat in the vicinity; and secondarily, how does either black hat prove that they are indeed 'trustworthy' black hats?

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: I am reminded...

      If television has taught me anything, you can tell a black hat from the fact that they're wearing a hoody. If they're not wearing a hoody they cant be trusted. Preferably they should be wearing a hoody with a black hat/cap underneath. And with the hoody pulled up to cover there face. And maybe wearing sunglasses. All the time. Even when in a dark basement lit only by their monitor.

      See its easy to identify these black hats...

    2. Crisp

      Re: I am reminded...

      "How does either black hat prove that they are indeed 'trustworthy' black hats?"

      There is no honour amongst thieves.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Re: 'trustworthy' black hats

    He, he. Always reminds me of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'trustworthy' black hats

      "Always reminds me of this."

      Human interactions tend to follow game theory. You cooperate within certain constraints - otherwise you eventually get cut off from what you need. Pirate ships in the 18th century are one example.

      Island ports controlled by pirates were also surprisingly well organised for the benefit of all.

      Charles Dickens's portrayal of Fagin in "Oliver Twist" showed a similar cooperative community.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    So they go back to mail order

    Just dumb people, there's no end of them once the gateway opens they'll flow through.

    The thing about the Internet and electronics is that it was second cousin to a bevvy of very successful systems prior to its popularity increasing.

    Crime, Spying , Espionage, Betrayal would all be more fun when you do it for real, it's what movies exploit, how many movies would we have if everything was just a quick hack away over the net ?

    We present easy targets for them.

    Look not too hard and you will still see much that doesn't rely in the internet at all.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    If this is true ...

    ... it means that Five Eyes have cracked bitcoin, thus Blockchain security.

    Surprisingly, there are currently organisations calling for the use of blockchain for secure transactions ...


    1. Stratman

      Re: If this is true ...

      Or it was bought from a compromised site...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...most likely just using the "dark web" using a crappy TOR browser on an Android phone spewing at a ton of other meta-data all over the place.

    Or someone forgot to disable javascript.

  8. UncleNick

    Where's the science sub-editor?

    "... Fentanyl ... is between 50 and 100 times more concentrated than Morphine"


    1. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Where's the science sub-editor?

      Recycled from here?

      “Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more concentrated than morphine,” says Professor Farrell. “It’s very difficult for people to know just how much they are extracting from the patch and injecting."

  9. bexley

    They can´t sniff out crime on the dark web

    If they could then they would be arresting everybody and there would be no more crypto currency drug deals. She most likely used monero anyway and not bitcoin, since most market places prefer the anonymous monero over the volatile and traceable bit coin.

    The cops are their ¨we see everything¨ lines are amusing.

    They detected the drugs in transit using the same techniques that customs have always used.

    If you are buying drugs on line and for some reason have to get it sent to your house, don´t order across borders.

    Even within the EU they do a lot more checking, in the Netherlands they pretty much open every single domestic package and have a look inside. I once had a book that somebody sent me from india confiscated. I could never get to the bottom of what the problem was as they destroyed it and refused to discuss it further.

    It was just a book.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: They can´t sniff out crime on the dark web

      Are we absolutely 100% sure? TOR was originally a US Navy project as I recall. Can we really be sure there's no back doors? Funny that for all the posturing by the 5 I's and US agencies about evil encryption, there's been no mention of TOR.

      1. Crisp

        Re: They can´t sniff out crime on the dark web

        Assume that there is a back door on every exit node. I'm sure you'd be able to sniff something from the packets as they whizzed by.

  10. Andy 97

    It all sounds like cobblers, most crypto markets employ tumblers which makes tracing transactions very difficult. The only other suggestion is that yet another marketplace has been ceased and operated for the purpose of collecting data by a government agency. More likely (as suggested previously) the buyer was simply unlucky.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whew - dark web crime is no more

    We can all sleep easy in our beds now.

    /sarcasm off.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Whew - dark web crime is no more

      Yep. We can ignore all further requests to crack phones and weaken encryption.

      Someone should probably inform the U.K. Parliament and US congress.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Whew - dark web crime is no more

      /sarcasm off.

      Does that mean sarcasm's now on?


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good job

    ...but the crims outnumber authorities 10,000 to 1 and they know it. At least some perps will go to prison. It may deter a few but not many.

  13. DeKrow

    Where digital and meatspace intersect

    This is a fine example of why all the crypto backdooring talk is redundant (not to mention stupid, but that's a separate argument).

    The big old major crimes cannot be committed purely in the digital realm. Drug deals involve something in physical existence (assuming Snow Crash doesn't exist yet), as do the various elements of terrorism (lone crazy or organised group), child abuse, murder, rape.

    Meatspace is where the insecurities lie, and this is where law enforcement should put its focus, which is likely what happened in this case. Darkweb this, bitcoin that. Pfft.

    The only crimes that are purely digital are the Gen Z's such as corporate data theft (old crime but dressed up modern), identity theft, carding, etc. Strangely, these aren't the ones being mentioned when discussing encryption backdoors or "going dark", and the whole lack of regulation, and seeming desire to regulate, on IoT will only make these kinds of attacks more frequent and have greater impact.

    They're not just putting the cart before the horse, they're putting the horse in the cart, then pushing the cart themselves.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The only crimes that are purely digital are the Gen Z's such as corporate data theft (old crime but dressed up modern), identity theft, carding, etc. "

    Pr0n has changed to a digital medium. Before the internet it was only available as physical magazines, postcards, and films sent through the post in "brown paper" wrapping or kept "under the counter". The latter illustrated in a tobacconist shop scene from the film "Peeping Tom" (1960).

  15. Nimby

    From the UK? Using Bitcoin?

    What I don't get is why on Earth an Aussie sheila would buy her "dark web" drugs from the UK? And using Bitcoin? Surely there were closer and safer options. (Intentionally not mentioning them.) Frankly, the exact choices disclosed sounds more like a game of Buzzword-Bingo propaganda than reality. Maybe to protect the reality. Maybe none of it was real. Maybe she really was that stupid. (Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.) Who knows? All I do know is that something smells extra fishy, and I am disinclined to swallow it.

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