TV Journalists Try Buying AK-47 on Dark Web, Fail

It's really not as easy to buy a gun on the dark web as people think.

|
May 20 2016, 6:20pm

Photo: MIKI Yoshihito

A common perception of the dark web is that it's a one-click shop for sourcing pistols, rifles or other weapons. But, as one TV crew found out, it's just not that easy.

Producers from German channel ARD lost around $800 worth of bitcoin when they tried to buy an AK-47 assault rifle on the dark web, Deep Dot Web reports.

The show, entitled "Fear of terror—how vulnerable is Germany," focused, naturally, on the threat posed by terrorism, German site Focus adds. It included testimony from a survivor of the Paris terrorist attack in November, and a consultant who points out the lax security measures in a Berlin shopping center.

But when the host tried to buy a gun on the dark web through a middleman, nothing turned up. It's not totally clear if this was because the seller wasn't legitimate, or whether the package had been intercepted.

Regardless, this shouldn't be much of a surprise: The dark web gun trade is rife with scammers. One con-artist previously told Motherboard he would ask legal sellers to send him photos of weapons next to a piece of paper with his username. From here, he would "just send a bag of sugar," when an order came in. And undercover law enforcement agents also sell weapons in order to identify potential customers.

Guns do get sold successfully on the dark web though. Motherboard Germany previously met someone who ordered disabled weapons from another seller, and then tweaked them to fire ammunition again. As a Spiegel investigation found, one prolific shop in Slovakia provides blank firing guns which are then converted back into lethal weapons, some of which were traced to terrorist attacks in Europe.

It appears those behind this German TV show were trying to dig into, or hop on this trend, but ended up getting dark web egg all over their faces.