In light of the $365,000 in Bitcoin phishing scheme, I thought this conversation with the owner of Fresh Onions would be fitting. Fresh Onions is an open source darknet market crawler and search engine. Unlike Grams, Fresh Onions crawls the darknet in its entirety and marks fake sites when possible.

An Interview with the Creator of a Darknet Search Engine

The timing worked well and _abruptdismissal,_ the creator, gladly gave information on fake or cloned hidden services. With long addresses filled with seemingly random characters, darknet sites or hidden services provide excellent targets for phishers.

Phishing on the darknet

Users of darknet sites who keep bitcoin on the site’s wallets seemingly click market links from the least authoritative sources. Many are not aware of the general protocol following something as simple as a downed market. For instance, when a darknet market goes down for unannounced maintenance, new users frantically search the internet for minute or alternate onion addresses in desperation. A phisher shines in this scenario; random links posted on Reddit get clicked by the same people who have not yet learned that keeping money on a darknet market is a had idea.

Fresh Onions logo

About “Fresh Onions”

Fresh Onions is a website that displays a database of hidden services. The site, a hidden service itself, differs from basic hidden wikis for several reasons. Here are some facts (along with some intertwined features of Fresh Onions) –

And the Features Listed on GitHub

The Fresh Onions link list

Abruptdismissal also removes CP and related material, when possible. He mentioned this on Reddit:

yeah so i actually try and do that, via a fairly primitive method unfortunately. I have a list of banned words and if a site has one of those banned words in the title, it gets banned and is not shown in the list. Also, you can’t search for the banned words either.

there are currently 108 banned sites :(

if you can think of a better way that doesn’t involve me manually verifying every site I’m definitely interested.

I reached out and spoke with him about a topic of his interest. He chose cloned .onion sites. Perfect choice.

Information Provided By Fresh Onions

abruptdismissal’s monologue:

As technical scams go, this must be one of the simplest, and, at least anecdotally, one of the most effective. You build an automated tool. This tools takes an onion address. We’ll call this the “host” It then runs an onion vanity tool (such as “scallion”) to generate an address that is substantially similar, at least in the first five or six characters. Let’s name this address, the “parasite”.

Now, once you have your target host and your parasite address, you spin up a hidden service on the parasite. This hidden service essentially acts as a proxy to the host. Any request a victim makes the parasite, the parasite makes to the host and returns the exact same content. Well, almost exactly the same. Financial freedom is just a few short regexes away. As the response comes back from the web server you change a few things. Replace all references to host address with that of the parasite. Alter any cryptocurrency addresses to ones you control. Log any login forms.

So let’s say you run this tool against a popular darknet market.

On spreading fake onion addresses

Then you take your parasite address and paste it round a few forums. Maybe go and subtly update the hidden wiki with the “new” Alphabay onion address. Some sucker hasn’t bookmarked the Alphabay address, so they go to hidden wiki and click on the link there. Then they login to the site… your site… and bingo! You have their creds. Maybe they decide to transfer some bitcoins into their account… uh ho! That’s actually your account.

Obviously there’s a bit of an outlay involved to create (or buy) the tool in the first place, but from then on out it’s pure economies of scale baby. Aside from needing to spread the URL of your parasite around, it’s almost fire and forget. To give you some idea of the scale of the problem, AlphaBay alone has around 350 clones. I use the natural language processing from to detect clones of darknet market sites and automatically mark them as fake. During the five months I’ve been running the “Fresh Onions” tor directory, I’ve found over 4000.

The moral of the story is: always make sure you get the link for a darknet market from a trusted source.”

Want to run your own Fresh Onions instance? Check out the source on Github.