Having survived all of 2020 while a number of other darknet markets went down, Versus Market is proving to be a reliable contender for best market still around. It remained quite small and under the radar for most of the year but exploded in popularity during the last quarter, and continues to grow in listings in early 2021. Like most darknet markets, Versus is heavily oriented toward drugs in terms of listings, though it does feature a wide selection of other categories, including a rarely seen “Legal Items” category.
Versus is a vendor-centric market as is demonstrated by a list of top vendors displayed first on their homepage instead of the usual best-selling product listings. Users report that Versus is much more likely to side with the vendor in disputes, giving them the benefit of the doubt in close cases. This is not a bad approach because it attracts higher quality and more experienced vendors to the market.
One of Versus Market’s selling points is the fact that funds are never held directly by the exchange and everything is handled via multisig escrow transactions. This “trustless payment system” makes them less likely to perform an exit scam or to be the victims of hackers, as no funds are being held on the market itself. Multisig transactions also allow a vendor and buyer to resolve a dispute without intervention of the market itself.
Unfortunately, customers who don’t take the time to properly understand how multisig transaction work run the risk of losing funds refunded to them from a cancelled order or awarded to them in a dispute. Regardless, the benefits of a no-FE, all-multisig escrow payment system have served Versus well thus far, and they now find themselves flourishing, more popular than ever.
Quick Facts about Versus Market
- Versus Market Link: pqqmrifxej23sb5h4brmelbe25mpthkxabqfhte5jy3wijfllaktylqd.onion
- Founded: 2019
- Number of listings: approx. 12,400
- Listing categories: Drugs, Fraud, Digital Items, Services, Software & Malware
- Coins accepted: Bitcoin (BTC)
- Multisignature escrow: Yes
- Finalize Early (FE) Allowed: No
- Vendor bond: $200
Before Getting Started
Before attempting to use Versus Market or any darknet market, it is important to have some basic knowledge on the following subjects:
- How to send, receive and store Bitcoin (BTC).
- How to create an Electrum wallet, locate the wallet’s xpub, and sign for multisignature transactions.
- How to use a Tor browser.
Versus recommends users only access the market using the Tails OS, which is a privacy-oriented operating system that can be booted from a USB drive. This will help to keep your online movements more private, revealing less about your browsing activities than if you were accessing the market from a regular operating system, like Windows or iOS.
As far as transferring Bitcoin for purchases is concerned, Versus highly recommends downloading the Electrum wallet and setting up a wallet specifically for the market. This way you will avoid accidentally revealing additional information about your cryptocurrency spending habits. When you do create a Versus Market-specific wallet on Electrum, be sure to create it as a normal wallet and not a multi-signature wallet.
How to Register an Account
Since June 2020, Versus has only had two official Tor links, which can be found at darkfail. It is essential to always make sure you are connecting to an official URL or you run the chance of having the contents of your account drained, or worse. They will usually have a couple of different spam and phishing prevention methods in place on your way to get to the login screen; consider it to be more suspicious if they don’t.
Once you have arrived at the Login page of an official Versus Market link, you’ll probably be greeted with a quick captcha, as the market frequently suffers from DDOS attacks. After filling the captcha and continuing to the next screen, complete the following steps to get started creating an account for the market:
1. Scroll down past the login fields and click the “Register” link in the bottom left-center of the screen. You will be transported to the account registration screen, which is quite straight-forward. Simply enter a username (not attributable to your IRL identity), password (a combination of at least 8 upper/lower-case letters, numbers and symbols), and a login phrase which appear every time you log in from an official market URL. Be sure to save your username and password someplace secure and where you will remember where it is.
After entering all the required fields, including the captcha, click “Register” to proceed.
2. You will see a brief message appear informing you that your account has been created, and you will be asked to log in to your account. From here you can see how the 2-FA for login works and it’s an option worth considering to help reduce the chances of hackers or phishers accessing your account.
For now, however, you don’t have to worry about the 2-FA stuff, so just click “Login” after entering your username and password.
3. Next, you will be presented with a 16-word mnemonic which acts as your account pass phrase. If you lose your username, password or somehow get locked out of your account, you can use this mnemonic to reset your password. Store this code along with your username and password, and never share it with others.
After you have saved the mnemonic elsewhere, click “Save” to continue.
4. You will now be logged into the market home screen. From here you can see listing categories, access account setting options and order information, and see a list of top rated vendors and products.
Although you are now free to begin browsing the market, there are a couple of additional things you’ll need to do before you can make a purchase.
5. To configure your account so it is ready to place orders, hover over your username toward the upper-right corner of the screen and click on the “Settings” option.
6. First you’ll need to enter in a Bitcoin public key (otherwise known as an “xpub”). This is necessary for Versus Market URL to create a multisignature transaction for you to sign off on. To find your xpub in Electrum, open your Versus wallet in Electrum, open the “Wallet” menu option, then click on “Information”. This will bring up your wallet’s Master Public Key, which begins with the letters “xpub.” Copy and paste the key into the “Extended Public Key” box on the Versus Settings page.
7. Next, copy and paste a Bitcoin address that belongs to you into the BTC Refund Address box directly beneath the xpub key box. Both fields should look something like this when correctly filled:
Note that you can also change your preferred currency display for listings, which is set to EUR by default. After double-checking that the xpub and refund address have been entered correctly, press “Save” to continue. You should see a brief message confirming that your settings have been updated before being directed to the next screen.
8. Finally, scroll down in the account settings until you get to the Change PGP text box. Here you will paste your PGP public key. This will allow you to receive encrypted communications, and is an essential part of doing business on Versus. The box should look something like this when properly filled:
After you have entered your PGP public key, press “Continue.” The screen will refresh and you’ll notice a new message that says “Please sign the key with itself.” This can be done in your PGP client by copying your public key to your clipboard and running the OpenPGP-sign command. After you have signed your PGP public key with itself and pasted it into the Change PGP text box, click “Change PGP”. You will then get a message confirming that your PGP has been changed if everything was entered successfully.
And that’s it! Your Versus Market account is now good to go. If you don’t mind performing a verification of your PGP key every time upon logging in, one last thing that can be done is activating the market’s 2-FA feature, which will require that you provide a decrypted message when you attempt to log in. This means that a phisher or hacker will need more than your username/password combination in order to access your account (they will also require your PGP private key), so there’s really no excuse to enable it if you plan on using the market in any capacity.
Browsing Versus Market
Versus uses a very simple layout and UI. Unlike most of its peers, it’s a vendor-centric market, meaning Versus places more emphasis on individual vendors than products, with profiles for Top Vendors displayed prominently on the homepage. Beneath these are profiles for Promoted Vendors, Newcomer Vendors, and then a recommended products section.
Versus’ listings are divided into 18 main categories which are divided into subcategories (and even sub-sub-categories). In order to see all the categories and listings, you will have to click on the “All listings” link in the top menu bar of the homepage. We’ve listed all the categories and major subcategories at Versus below.
- Benzos (Pills, Powder, RC)
- Cannabis (Buds & Flowers, Concentrates, Edibles, Hash, Prerolls, Seeds, Shake)
- Dissociatives (GHB, Ketamine, MXE)
- Ecstasy (MDA, MDMA, Methylone & BK, Pills)
- Opioids (Buprenophine, Codeine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, Pills
- Other (Alcohol, Paraphernalia, Steroids, Tobacco, Weight Loss)
- Psychedelics (2C-B, DMA / DOX, DMT, LSA, LSD, Mescaline, Shrooms)
- Prescription (ADHDH, ED Sex Meds, MAOIs, Muscle Relaxers, Nootropics, Other Prescription, Pain Medication, Sedatives, Sleep Aids)
- Stimulants (2-FA, Adderal & Vynase, Cocaine, Crack, Meth, Other RCs, Pressed Pills, Speed)
- Digital Products (E-Books, Erotica, Fraud Software, Games Keys, Legit Software)
- Fakebase (Fake Documents, Money)
- Fraud (Accounts & Bank Drops, CVV & Cards, Dumps)
- Guides & Tutorials (Personal Information & Scans Fraud, Hacking, Security & Anonymity, Social Engineering)
- Legal Items (Appliances, Clothing + Jewelry, Digital, Electronics, Materials, Memorabilia + Antiques)
- Precious Metals (Gold, Jewels, Other Precious Metals, Silver)
- Security & Hosting (Hosting, SOCKS, VPN)
- Services (Carding, Social Engineering, Other Services)
- Software & Malware (Botnets & Malware, Exploit Kits, Exploits, Other Software & Malware, Security Software)
The search utility for Versus can be found in the left panel of the All Listings screen, above the listing categories. You can select multiple categories when performing a search by holding down the CTRL button when selecting categories. Beneath these categories are the filters which can narrow down the listings displayed on the page by the following criteria:
- Shipping from / to
- Stealth rating
- Communication rating
- Quality rating
Each product listing that appears in search/filter results shows a lot of important information about the product and vendor, such as price, bulk prices, quantity in stock, shipped from/to, vendor level, and vendor ratings. Clicking on a product listing reveals the following information about the product:
Below this are tabs titled Description, Terms & Conditions, and Feedback. It’s a good idea to read through all of these tabs before deciding to place an order with any vendor. It will give you an idea of what the product is all about, what to do and what to expect as far as shipping is concerned, and what other customers have to say about the product and/or vendor. Some vendors have specific shipping policies or have certain expectations from their customers when placing an order with them, so don’t skip past a vendor’s terms and conditions if you plan on making a purchase with them.
As we said earlier, Versus places a heavy emphasis on their vendors, which makes it easier to identify how likely an order is to go according to plan. Click on the vendor name in the product listing to bring up additional details about the vendor.
Versus assigns a bunch of different metrics to each vendor’s profile, including their own Versus Points, which is a combination of successful feedback for deals done on Versus and other markets. They also keep track of vendor Levels which are based on accumulating Versus Points. If a vendor has a higher Level than amount of successful trades on Versus, this means the majority of their vendor experience is from other markets. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but it’s a good idea to also check the vendor’s feedbacks and star ratings for the Stealth, Quality and Communication of orders sent to Versus customers.
When faced with a choice between two vendors – both offering a similar product but at different prices – and one vendor has a higher Level and more trades than the other, always go with the more experienced vendor, even if it means paying a few dollars more. Stick with trusted vendors and let other people be the experimental guinea pigs when it comes to new vendors with no experience.
Placing an Order
After you’ve found a product or service you wish to order, select the quantity you want to purchase from the listing page and click “Add to Cart”. It is possible to continue shopping – even browsing other vendors – before finally checking out, but for the purposes of this guide we are sticking to 1 product and 1 vendor.
From this screen you will select a Shipping Option, Payment Option, and then update a BTC refund address (if applicable). Most vendors only have Multisig (2/3 MS) as an option, which requires an action on your behalf to release the funds from escrow to the vendor after your order has been received. Some highly trusted vendors also have a Fast Pay (2/2 MS) option available. This means funds can only be moved by the market and vendor, and should only be used if you have absolute confidence in the vendor’s ability to perform their end of the deal.
You will want to encrypt your shipping information with the vendor’s PGP key before pasting it in the shipping info text box and checking out. In 2021, encrypting your personal communications with vendors is a must and considered to be standard in terms of OPSEC. To do this, open your PGP client, import the vendor’s PGP certification, and verify it. Versus makes this slightly easier for you by providing a link with the vendor’s PGP public key right above the shipping information text box. The box should look something like this when correctly filled:
After you are ready, press the big green “Checkout” button to continue. You’ll now be brought to the invoice screen where you will be presented with a payment amount in BTC and a payment address to which you will send the exact amount of BTC displayed on the screen.
You will have 24 hours to complete payment, which is defined by the payment transaction being confirmed by the Bitcoin network. Note that Versus collects their fees in the form of a commission tax placed on top of the order, which is why the total to be paid will represent an amount slightly higher than the item price plus shipping.
After your payment has been confirmed by the Bitcoin network, the vendor will be notified to begin preparing your order. After your order has been sent out for delivery, it will be marked as Shipped. Once your order is received and you are content with it, don’t forget to mark the order as Finalized, or your funds will not be released to the vendor. This involves signing a Bitcoin transaction that releases the funds to the vendor. If you’re not sure how to do this, instructions can be found in the Versus Help section, located at the bottom of the screen.
If you are unhappy with your order or never receive it, you can file a Dispute on the order. In this case, you will present as much pertinent information to the Versus moderators, and the vendor will have a chance to tell their side of the story as well. The moderators will take the evidence presented into consideration and then decide in the favor of one party or the other. Note that if you do win a dispute, you will have to sign a Bitcoin transaction to release funds held in escrow back to your refund address.
Of course, it’s always better not to have to open a dispute in the first place. Try to work things out with the vendor beforehand. A lot of the time, vendors will replace customer orders that have been seized or lost in transit. Professional vendors know that reputation is everything and the good ones will work with customers to resolve outstanding issues regarding orders. Another good reason not to open a dispute is that there’s a good chance you won’t win — as we said earlier, Versus is a vendor-centric market and dispute moderators have been reported to judge in their favor more often than not.
In all, Versus does a lot of things that all darknet markets should do but don’t always. By this we mean the relatively fantastic attention to security details, and allowing all transactions to be done via multisig. This makes it much harder for vendors or the market itself to run away with large amounts of customer funds. We also appreciate that Versus features PGP 2-FA and insists that all communications be encrypted. As far as selection is concerned, it’s not the best currently out there, but their listings growth has been explosive and it’s worth taking a look at what they have to offer.