Massive criminal marketplace hidden on Deep Web - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Massive criminal marketplace hidden on Deep Web

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Like nearly everyone else, the internet is probably now part of your everyday life. What you may not be aware of is that the internet is like an iceberg, and you're only seeing the tip.

It's estimated that when you use a search engine such as Google, you're only seeing about 1 percent of the internet. What those search engines are not returning results for is called the Deep Web. In fact, it takes special software to access.

Police regard the Deep Web as largely lawless, a place where you can find stolen credit cards, hard drugs and even hit men available to the highest bidder.

Allen Melquist is a self-described hacker who runs legitimate websites. Using special software, he took FOX5 on a tour of the Deep Web.

A quick search for "credit card number" instantly returned pages and pages of results, stolen information for sale.

A search for the drug Molly found no shortage of people willing to sell and deliver. It was the same for cocaine.

"Instead of seeing a drug dealer on the side of the street, they go to sites like this now," Melquist said.

Even more disturbing, the Deep Web is a haven for child pornographers. There are even reports of people selling body parts.

"Let's say you had $100,000 to hire a hit man. You could probably have them hired in 30 minutes," said Melquist.

Last year, authorities arrested Ross Ulbricht, creator of the website Silk Road. The site was considered one of the biggest criminal marketplaces on the Deep Web.

Prosecutors say Ulbricht used his own site to try to hire a hit man. Shutting Silk Road down appears to have done little to scare crooks away from the Deep Web.

"Hackers don't even have to leave their home country, so it's impossible to go and try to arrest them," said the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Sgt. John Sheahan.

There are countless sellers and buyers doing business on the Deep Web. It may involve anything from drugs to your personal information.

"Everybody can be a victim. There is now way to protect from this happening. Any protection you get is going to be afterwards," Sheahan said.

"They [police] would probably, in my experience, know 80 to 85 percent of what going on on the web. The rest of the stuff happens so fast they can't really track it," Melquist said.

Not everything for sale on Deep Web is illegal, however. 

Sheahan said local and federal authorities are beefing up their cybercrime units to catch online crooks. He recommends you check your credit report regularly, so if your information is stolen and sold on the web, you can catch it early.

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