In this article we explain everything you need to know to get connected to Monopoly, one of the darknet’s most popular markets.
Monopoly is a drugs-only darknet market that was founded in July 2019. It has remained on the small side, containing just a bit over 1,000 listings, but within these 2+ years it has garnered a fiercely loyal userbase. Vendors at Monopoly service just about every corner of the world and are rewarded with specialized flair based on their performance. Unlike most other markets, buyers are not required to register an account. Instead, they are offered one of two payment types: Escrow and Direct Deal. Both avoid the traditional account wallet system, meaning the buyer need only make one payment per order.
One of the interesting things about Monopoly is that they do just about everything they can to protect the safety of their users. This may come off as nagging, as they are constantly reminding users to avoid non-verified links, but apparently they’ve had a lot of complaints in the past from people who were unknowingly phished. Monopoly’s mirrors change quite often, but once you have their main link, that’s all you need (for the time being).
The market’s operators seem to go above and beyond in terms of explaining exactly how things there work, which is appreciated, but at the same time they offer users the following caveat: “If you cannot troubleshoot, then you should not be doing this.” We can’t help but agree with them. This is not a market for beginners, but rather those who know exactly what they’re doing, and are ready to get in-and-out without causing a hassle for anyone.
Another thing that sets them apart from other darknet markets is that they post the stats of all vendors on a convenient Vendors page, making it quite easy to see where a particular vendor ranks among the others. They even offer special insights into each vendor in a special “Trust Scan” tab found on every listing page. We appreciate the fact that the market goes out of their way to introduce as much transparency as they can. We also appreciate that Monopoly uses a captcha system that is rather unique and simple (if you’re not a robot, that is).
Basic Facts about Monopoly Market
- Monopoly Market Link: http://monopolydc6hvkh425ov6xolmgx62q2tgown55zvhpngh75tz5xkzfyd.onion/
- Year founded: 2019
- Cryptocurrencies accepted: Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR)
- Total Product/Service listings: ~1,200
- Listing Categories: Benzos, Cannabis, Dissociatives, Ecstasy, Pharmaceuticals, Psychedelics, Steroids, Stimulants
- Multi-signature escrow? No
- Finalize Early? No
- Cost of vendor bond: None (application process)
Before Getting Started
There are a few technical principles you should be familiar with before attempting to use Monopoly or any darknet market. Familiarize yourself with these concepts if you do not already know what they refer to in the context of darknet markets.
- The Tor browser. You must know how to operate the Tor browser and use it in a way so that it does not compromise your OpSec, or Operations Security.
- Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR). You must know the basics of cryptocurrency transacting, which include sending and receiving coins like BTC and XMR. We recommend using Monero when given the opportunity as it is much harder to follow on the blockchain and therefore less subject to analysis.
- PGP encryption/decryption. You will need to know how to generate a PGP key pair in order to post your PGP public key when placing orders. You’ll also need to know how to encrypt messages using the PGP key of vendors and decrypt messages sent to you encrypted with your public key.
- Blockchain OpSec. According to the Monopoly admins themselves, they receive “hundreds” of orders each week from users who make payments directly from a crypto exchange. This is a big no-no as it creates a link between your real-world identity and darknet market activity. It is especially worrisome for users who have provided these exchanges with their personal information.
Basically, you should never send coins to a darknet market (or vendor) directly from an exchange, even Monero. Have the decency to create at least one hop between the exchange and market as it allows plausible deniability to enter should you ever actually be questioned, God forbid. If you are unsure what good “blockchain OpSec” entails, Monopoly has special tutorials on “How to Clean Your Cryptocurrency” for both BTC and XMR.
Monopoly is not designed to be a market for darknet newbies, just dipping their feet in the scene for this first time. Instead, its participants are expected to know exactly what they are doing, so we recommend not jumping in blindly. If there’s something you don’t understand, take the time to ask. The Monopoly page on the Dread forum is a great place to start for that kind of thing. Monopoly itself hosts a comprehensive Getting Started page on their site, filled with FAQs and how-tos. We recommend giving it a thorough read-through before placing an order on the market for the first time.
Disclaimer: This guide is for research purposes only and is not meant to be advice; legal or otherwise. Its authors do not condone activities that are illegal in your jurisdiction. Use the contents of this guide and/or Monopoly market at your own risk.
Creating an Account
If you are a buyer, there is no need to create an account on Monopoly. You can simply start browsing the market right away. Instead of signing in with a username and password, you are only required to enter a PGP public key when placing an order. You will also be required to encrypt shipping information with the vendor’s PGP key when placing an order.
Setting a PGP Key
Because Monopoly does not use the traditional account system (as mentioned above), you will need to enter your PGP public key each time you place an order on the market. We explain how to do this in the Placing an Order section below.
Making a Deposit
Similar to the PGP key issue, you will only need to transfer cryptocurrency when making payment for an order. Monopoly supports both Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR), and most vendors accept both. We explain how to pay for your orders in the Placing an Order section below.
Browsing Monopoly Market
Monopoly is a pleasure to browse because it is simple, well organized, and easy to look at. As it is a drugs-only market, it does not suffer from the clutter problems experienced by many other markets. Instead, each category is conveniently divided into a number of subcategories, and because the market is small in size, the small filter selection displayed at the top of each listings page is hardly needed.
Categories (and subcategories) sported by Monopoly include the following:
- Benzos (Pills, Powder, RC, Other)
- Cannabis (Buds & Flower, Shake, CBD, Concentrates, Carts, Hash, Edibles, Other)
- Dissociatives (Ketamine, MXE, GHB, Other)
- Ecstasy (Pills, MDMA, MDA, Methylone & BK, Other)
- Pharmaceuticals (Genuine, Generics, Other)
- Psychedelics (LSD, Shrooms, DMT, 2C-B, Other)
- Steroids (Genuine, Counterfeit, Other)
- Stimulants (Speed, Meth, Cocaine, Mephedrone, Crack, Other)
The most popular category on Monopoly is Cannabis, with close to 700 listings on any given day. This represents about 2/3 of the market’s total listings. It also has a moderate selection of mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs, and pharmaceuticals as well. One thing noticeably absent at Monopoly is an Opiates section; the market preferring to avoid being associated with heroin, fentanyl, and non-medicinal analogs. There are some opioid medications to be found in the Pharmaceuticals section, but it’s clear the market does not want its vendors offering the harder stuff.
Monopoly goes out of its way to provide the buyer with everything they need to know about a listing and its vendor before making a purchase. For example, clicking on a listing brings up the following info:
Here we can see the following info:
- Product quantities (gram denominations)
- Vendor name (total sales, vendor level, tot. disputes, vendor status)
- Listing Open Orders, Sales, Views, Age, Stock, Origin, Ships To, Payment Methods
- Item description
Beneath this we see a series of tabs:
- Order. Use this tab to specify the conditions of your order (open by default).
- Reviews. Read the reviews left by other people who have purchased this item.
- Trust Scan. This is a novel feature by Monopoly that provides an overall summary of a vendor’s activity on the market. You can see a bunch of useful information about them here to help get an idea of their trustworthiness and competency as a vendor. Some of the stats included are their average Stealth rating, handling, and response time, and even how many of their delivery trackings have been marked as successful (as opposed to “failed”).
- Refund policy. Self-explanatory, but necessary to check before placing an order with a vendor for the first time.
- PGP. Contains the vendor’s PGP public key. You can use this to encrypt shipping information, and it is also available upon order checkout.
To browse the market by vendor, you can click on the Vendor tab toward the top of the screen. This is a component unique to Monopoly and offers some interesting comparative insights into the market’s vendors.
Vendors are listed alphabetically, and it is easy to find ones that have a lot of experience under their belt (this may be a good indicator as to if they know what they are doing or not). For each vendor, you can see their “Performance” (positive vs. negative reviews, plus disputes), Listings, Sales, and Open Orders.
The Monopoly admins know that a vendor’s reputation is everything when it comes to making it on a darknet market and has a bunch of incentives in place to allow good service to be recognized. They have also seen everything as far as buyer level experience is concerned, and don’t seem to have tolerance for users who don’t know what they’re doing.
Placing an Order
After you’ve found an item you wish to purchase, click on it to bring up its listing page, then scroll down until you can see the contents of the Order tab.
First select the pre-specified product amount you wish to purchase, along with the quantity, and shipping option. We recommend using the “Enable PGP 2FA” option (change from “No” to “Yes”) because this is the only way for the market and/or vendor to confirm you are who you say you are if some problems should arise. If you need help with this feature, click the red “Help” button next to the option title.
Beneath this, you will see text boxes to enter you PGP public key (left) and encrypted shipping information (right). The boxes will look something like this when correctly filled:
First, paste your PGP public key into the left box. Next, press the “Download” button next to the Your Delivery Info field to download the vendor’s PGP key (you don’t need to do this if you’ve already imported the key into your PGP client). These keys can easily be imported into a client like Kleopatra, which renders the encryption process all the faster. Next, select the Payment Method (BTC or XMR), Payment Type (explained below), and Refund Address (address to refund your payment in case it needs to be refunded).
As we explained earlier, Monopoly does not use the traditional market account system, at all. Instead, they offer two payment types:
- Escrow. You are supplied with an order payment address and amount. After receiving payment, the market will notify the vendor to begin preparing the order and hold the funds in escrow until you have marked the order as complete (finalized).
- Direct Deal. Similar to escrow, you send an exact amount of coin to an address representing the order, but the funds are in control of the vendor instead of the market. This option is reserved for vendors who have an established history of good dealing on the market.
Some vendors have both Direct Deal and Escrow payment types enabled. Of those who do, some will offer a discount if you choose Direct Deal. When given a choice, we recommend you use the Escrow option when dealing with a vendor for the first time. If a Direct Deal-enabled vendor turns out to be a scammer, or even if a conflict arises when you feel you should be refunded, there will be no way to get your money back from them.
After you have selected Direct Deal or Escrow and made sure all the other fields are filled, click on the broken circle underneath to solve the captcha, and enter the next step of the order placement. Your order will now be created. Each order on Monopoly is assigned an order code, which is a long string of numbers. You will want to save this code as it is the only way you can retrieve information about the status of your order. After saving it somewhere secure, press the “I have saved my order code” button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
Note: you can use your order code to check the status of your order at any point after it has been paid for.
Next you will be asked to verify your PGP key by decrypting a special code encrypted with it (if you enabled PGP 2-FA as recommended). Copy the entire contents of the 2FA Verification box, decrypt it using the private key that corresponds to the public key entered in your order earlier, and paste the decrypted contents into the box below. It should look something like this:
Finally, press “Verify” to continue. Next up you will be brought to the payment placement screen; the top part of which looks like this:
You will have 12 hours to make the exact payment to the deposit address provided for your order to be officially placed. Below this is the pertinent information listed again, along with two boxes into input information to confirm with the market that you have indeed made your transaction.
Following the advice presented in the warning is a good idea, especially for XMR newbies. Upon constructing and sending a transaction, your Monero wallet will record and provide for you the transaction’s ID (TX ID) and view key (TX Key). Paste these values into their corresponding boxes, then press “Confirm Payment” after doing so. If your payment has been found as confirmed by the Monero network, the market will pass the info on to the vendor to begin preparing your order.
You can check up on the status of an order at any time by entering the Order Code into the box in the upper-right corner of most screens. Note that vendors have a certain amount of time to prepare and ship your order; after doing so, your order status will be updated as “Shipped”. Your order will then be on its way for delivery. After receiving it and finding the product to be to your satisfaction, don’t forget to finalize the order and release the funds to the vendor if you made an Escrow payment. If you made a Direct Deal payment, no further action will be required on your part. Orders will auto-finalize after 30 days if no action is taken on the part of the buyer.
Tip for darknet market ordering success: Because it is not necessarily easy to communicate with vendors given the lack of accounts for buyers, we recommend only ordering from trustworthy vendors with well-established histories. This means vendors who have hundreds (or thousands) of sales under their belt with very few negative reviews or disputes lost. Going with only the most experienced vendors cuts down on the chance that something could go wrong, as well as the need to communicate with them (it’s always better if you don’t have to do this).
There is a Dispute system in place on Monopoly, but we recommend minimize the chances of having to use it by following our tip given directly above. This market’s admin does not tolerate fools likely; a title dispute moderators might find fitting for all new users that have yet to learn the important things on their own.
In summation, Monopoly is a small-to-mid-sized darknet market that has been around for a bit over two years. The market emphasizes security and OpSec by forcing PGP encryption of shipping information, and the Direct Deal payment system demonstrates they are interested in looking beyond the usual exit scamming operation. The market’s UI is pleasant, and the lack of clutter makes it easy to find exactly that for which one is searching. Support for XMR is also a big plus, as is the fact that you don’t need to register an account to browse or even use the market as a buyer.
To be honest, Monopoly strikes us as a legit, non-honeypot, non-scam operation – if only for the simple fact that the market’s chief admin seems to be a real a-hole (and by that we mean a legitimately grumpy, scrooge-like person, which is what we want in a darknet market operator). The same a-hole seems to genuinely care about the safety and well-being of their market’s buyers and sellers and goes to greater lengths than usual to provide information on how to have a successful experience.
For a collection of Monopoly-related resources, hosted by the market itself, we recommend checking out their Getting Started page, which has guides on PGP, cryptocurrency, vendors, disputes, lost packages, and much more. For further information on Monopoly on subjects not covered here or on the market, visit their page on the Dread forum.