How Much Money is Made on the Dark Web
Dr. Michael McGuires of the University of Surrey concluded in his 2019 study Into the Web of Profit that the situation has deteriorated. During 2016, the number of listings on the dark web that could be harmful to a business has increased by 20%. Sixty percent of all listings (excluding those selling drugs) may be harmful to businesses.
How much money is made through the darknet/dark web?
A considerable amount of millions of dollars, euros, and other currencies.
Theoretically, it is a substantial amount of bitcoin, litecoin, monero, etc. worth millions of USD/EUR/etc.
When several owners of darknetmarkets have been arrested, it has been reported that sums ranging from $2 million to $10 million or more have been recovered.
The federal government sold the bitcoin confiscated during the initial arrest on Silk Road for $48 million. That would have been a small portion of what that market’s proprietor earned during its run.
This amount represents the transaction cost for market trades. I cannot recall what Silkroad’s fees were, but such fees are normally between 3% and 6. You can do the arithmetic to determine that this market could have generated hundreds of millions of dollars.
I am not taking into account the growth and fall of Bitcoin values.
To approach from a different angle – presently, one darknet market has around 700,000 registered customer accounts and 3,500 registered vendor accounts.
If this market disappeared, a new one would develop within days, and before weeks it would also have a significant number of buyers and sellers.
Consumers typically make numerous purchases each year. A now-defunct market displayed the amounts spent by consumers on their profiles as an indicator of status and repute. I became interested in this topic, and although it was not always simple, I was able to locate some client profiles. Amounts like $3000 $5000 were quite normal. I observed some that above $10000 and a handful that over $20000.
There are further methods to estimate and quantify the sums of money being exchanged, but I believe this answers your query.
If you asked me for my best guess, I would say between 800 million and 1.6 billion per year. It may be much higher, as a significant number of high-dollar transactions appear to be occurring, but the individuals involved are naturally cautious and circumspect. I highly doubt it is lower.