Dark web vendors are increasingly trying to find other avenues to continue raking in cash without necessarily being affected by the fall of a market, and one of the ways to do this is to create their own forums.
For that reason, vendors who had previously established themselves in bigger markets that ended up falling as a result of a hack, scam or seizure by law enforcement invest in their own infrastructure to have full control.
One good example of this is a PayPal transfer service that was established on the dark web by one of AlphaBay’s top fraud vendors, known as Cash Out Money Team (COMT).
This particular vendor saw the need to create a forum that is under his control the moment AlphaBay and other markets he worked for went down abruptly.
Accessing the Forum
The forum has a blog on the clearnet that can be reached at paypaltransfers.com.
Here, they post all the relevant information about their services, including their URL on Tor, which is flkcpcprcfouwj33.onion.
About the Forum
The site was started in July 2017 right after the seizure of AlphaBay Market. The introductory post was made by an administrator whose account was registered on July 24, 2017, just weeks after the downfall of AlphaBay.
In the post, the admin says that over the years, markets have perfected the act of pulling off exit scams and stealing money from vendors in the process.
The post also cites examples of markets that have been seized by law enforcement, which further causes vendors to lose their money.
As a result, vendors cannot be completely sure that their money will remain secure whenever they deal with Tor-based marketplaces since they exit from the scene at the most unexpected time.
This is among the primary reasons that COMT was started—so that the admins can be in full control of their money.
The other reason is that the high commission fee charged by these other markets pushed them to find a way to increase their profits.
By opening COMT, the site owners seek to have a transparent avenue where users can ensure their funds are safe, since orders are only placed when one wants to purchase a transfer.
More so, the customer is aware that the funds are not held by the site but rather an external wallet so in the event anything happens to the site, the funds will not be affected, which often is not the case with modern darknet markets.
Dream, for example, went offline for a stretch of time early last year, which led to the loss of users’ crypto funds.
Through the various posting panels in the site, COMT aims to have open discussion so that all the members are aware of the recent developments in the platform and are able to share and exchange ideas in a bid to experience higher levels of success in their operations.
Operations of COMT
In the same post, the admin boasts that they are a legendary cash out money service with experience in doing PayPal transfers by the use of credit cards.
The process is quite simple, by using fraudulently obtained cards which have been obtained through hacking of a major website that accepts payments via cards, an ecommerce site or other avenue, these individuals know the type of credit cards to use by identifying a particular BIN (refer to Dark Web News’ guide to terminologies used in carding).
They further go on to say that for the time they have been in operation, they have successfully been able to facilitate more than 30,000 transfers—a figure that no other vendor has been able to achieve, according to Cash Out Money Team.
The admins claim that no other vendors have managed to do 10 percent of the total transfers that they have done to date.
One thing to note is that these transfers come in different amounts. For example, depending on the type of account, it can receive as little as $500 to as much as $5,000 or even more.
So for the more than 30,000 transfers done by COMT, it means that individuals and financial institutions such as banks and even PayPal itself may have lost millions in the years that this vendor has been undertaking their fraud activities.
Inside the Buying Process on COMT
Unlike modern markets where you only look at the listing and place an order, which are at times automated, the same is not the case here.
You have to personally message the admin and wait for their response before you may proceed and make the payments.
In response, you will get a Bitcoin address and be told the amount to pay, which should be done as soon as possible.
For that reason, those making an order have to stay online so that they can make payments within 30 minutes after the moderator has sent the payment information.
COMT Interested in Global Partners
Just like any other business, the forum is looking for partners that can contribute towards the growth of the business in one way or the other.
Depending on a number of factors, those interested can join the team by creating guides and tutorials for new users.
The other way to contribute is to create and age up to 1,500 accounts per month, and that is if a person is registering 50 PayPal accounts in a day.
These accounts can be used as middlemen accounts to transfer funds from the credit card and then to the account of the customer, or they can serve as the final drop depending on how they are aged.
By using these accounts as middlemen accounts, they have successfully reduced the chances of dispute hitting the account that will be used by the customer to receive funds.
As such, someone can use their account for a longer time, thus receiving more money until the account gets flagged, which may result in limitations or a permanent ban from using this platform.
So assuming one has 1,500 accounts and the average income per account on the lower side is $200, that means that an individual can make up to $300,000 in one month.
Now for a fact, and based on the principle of probability, not all accounts will cash out because there is a chance of limitation before you receive funds or even get to use the account itself.
So even if one creates 1,500 accounts and gets to use only 500 of them, that means that they will earn up to $100,000 in that particular month.
This is a figure significantly higher than the average annual salary in the U.S. and more than what the hacking group The Dark Overload will pay per month for premium hacking services rendered to them by elite hackers.
Then also, for those that have PayPal accounts or can acquire some to be used as digital drops, they are free to provide them, knowing that they will not be able to use them again in the near future.
This is because after receiving the dirty or semi-clean funds, PayPal will flag the account due to negative balances and suspicious activities.
Now, there is the probability that not all funds sent by COMT will be received and cashed out in due time.
In some instances, whether the funds are semi clean or not, a chargeback may occur in even a few minutes before the receiver can withdraw the money.
For that reason, COMT offers a replacement service provided you can prove that the chargeback has occurred in 48 hours.
If this time passes and you are not able to cash out the funds due to negligence, then you are not eligible for a replacement.
If you notice from the above screenshot, whenever you are requesting for a replacement, COMT will require the account activity.
If by any chance it is found that an account with few transactions was used to receive huge funds, then you may not qualify for a replacement because it could be a waste of time.
It is even mentioned in the post by the admin (screenshot below) that those who do not understand PayPal and provide accounts with no history will NOT be tolerated and risk being banned from the site.
COMT‘s Terms of Service
Similar to other enterprises, there are always terms and conditions to be followed by the customers, and the case is no different for COMT members.
These are clear instructions meant to avoid confusion for those who want to place orders.
PayPal regularly updates the security of their systems and in the process introducing a variety of measures to ensure that their platform is not used illegally.
Among the measures put in place by PayPal are 21-day hold of funds, 24-hour review of money received and limiting the account in extreme cases.
Each of the above applies to different types of transactions, and it depends on how the receiving account has been used before.
But for old accounts with good transaction history, the possibility of any of the above happening is minimal.
However, for a new account with few transactions, either of the above is bound to happen. In some cases, the account may not even be able to receive funds.
The screenshot below highlights the modus operandi of the site.
As previously mentioned, those who place orders should be careful when using COMT because a simple mistake, and just like any other market, may result in the loss of funds without the possibility of compensations.
Instead, you might face a ban on the forum.
Other Vendors Available on COMT
Because of the popularity of Cash Out Money Team, and their experience in dealing in other markets, they have built a reputation. The forum has attracted thousands of users since it was started.
Among these users are transfer buyers, other vendors that offer the similar services, and rumor has it that there are also PayPal staff who study how funds are sent so that they can seal loopholes in their systems.
Other vendors come to this forum to look for their direct clients who can do long-term business with them.
Once they get some, they will give them their username on Jabber, ICQ, Telegram or Wickr for offline communication.
The good thing about such sellers is that they are willing to take the risk of sending money without getting any upfront payments.
Even though they send funds upfront, they do have their rules though.
Instead of charging 25 percent like COMT, they take 40-60 percent depending on the method they use to send funds which determines the chargeback time.
On the other hand, buyers are also aware that such individuals exist and they are continually looking for them so that they cannot risk losing their money by making upfront payments.
In short, a fraudster typically wants to deal with someone who sends them money first and then pays later.
The only issue is that many people end up getting scammed in this manner and in the end, they get out of business.
For example, several vendors have sent funds running into thousands of dollars only to get scammed by those whom they trusted and sent them money without demanding upfront payments.
So nowadays what these vendors do is work with caution. They only do one transfer at a time until payments are made.
Only then can they proceed and make another transfer.
However, the story does not always end on a good note despite the precautions because some customers will seek to gain the vendors’ trust and convince them to send large amounts multiple times only to disappear with several thousands of dollars in the end.
Forums like COMT have gained popularity within the fraud community because of such reasons where buyers have the opportunity to meet individuals who do not require upfront payments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mentioned at the very end of the admin’s post, in the FAQ’s section, the forum does not process orders below $500.
However, the vendors who come here to look for clients are desperate and can process orders as little as $200 depending on the type of credit card they are using and their cash out method.
For the transfers, COMT takes about 48-96 hours to process an order, sometimes less. However, for the vendors that you meet on the forum who have ready funds, they can take up to a few hours to get the job done.
Another critical thing to note, darknet users are fond of using anonymous messaging applications to communicate with one another, but the case is not the same for COMT who makes it clear at the end of the post that the only way you can communicate with them is through sending them a direct message.
For the other vendors who join COMT, it is easy to get them on communication platforms because that is where they thrive best.
The one thing about these types of people is that they are temporary and once they are done you may never get to hear from them again because they may end up deleting their accounts permanently.
There are a couple of other sellers on the COMT forum who operate on bigger markets.
What they mainly do is buy COMT transfers for 25 percent or less and sell them on markets like Dream and others, and make a profit of 5-25 percent.
These users face less risks because they use escrow on the orders they make.
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