In brief

  • Monopoly Market has banned the sale of fake COVID-19 cures and vaccines.
  • Other dark web sites still list purported coronavirus remedies in exchange for crypto.
  • Currently, there is no legitimate vaccine for COVID-19.

A dark web drug marketplace called Monopoly Market has reportedly banned the sale of purported novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines and cures in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Author Eileen Ormsby, who has written books about the dark web, tweeted a post written by a Monopoly Market administrator about the site’s COVID-19 policy.

"Any vendor caught flogging goods as a ‘cure’ to coronavirus will not only be permanently removed from this market but should be avoided like the Spanish Flu,” the administrator wrote. 

“You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet—under no circumstances should you trust a vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle tangible/already questionable goods.”

The administrator clarified—offering special deals on drugs for the coronavirus is acceptable. But posts like “Cannabis, keep you fit and healthy and COVID Free” are forbidden.

Another post snippet shared by Ormsby expanded on the site’s policy of not using the pandemic to market any items, whether it’s drugs, masks, or toilet paper. “None of that bullshit,” the post reads. “We have class here.”

The Independent reports that Monopoly Market accepts Bitcoin and Monero, and while that site has shut down coronavirus-related sales, other dark web markets are still listing so-called COVID-19 vaccines that sellers claim are “fully tested and verified.” One site, Agartha, listed a $300 “coronavirus vaccine” composed of amphetamines, cocaine, and nicotine, according to The Independent.

Currently, there is no confirmed vaccine for COVID-19, although there are about 20 different vaccine projects in the works—including seven funded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. It could be 18 months or more for a vaccine to be tested and approved for human usage, then prepared and rolled out en masse.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, a pair of drugs used to treat ailments such as malaria, lupus, and arthritis, have also been found on dark web marketplaces after US President Donald Trump called them potential “game changers” in treating COVID-19. A report from NPR suggests that hydroxychloroquine clinical trials only recently began for COVID-19 and that no results have been reported as of yet.

Decrypt recently wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic is driving drug users to the dark web, where Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be used to score a fix during a time of social distancing.