Russia’s largest darknet marketplace is looking to raise $146 million in a token offering that would allow it to go global. As Forklog reported on Dec. 11, the token sale is almost certainly illegal — in this case not merely for flouting securities laws or other financial regulations. “A new era in the West” The operators of the marketplace, known as “Hydra,” have ambitions to roll out their model of anonymized, rogue trading for illicit substances at a massive scale. An investment memorandum, accessible only via dark web browsers like Tor, claims the platform’s global expansion “will start a new era in the West” at a scale that is “hard to imagine.” Hydra provides an anonymous service, whereby couriers disperse purchased goods to designated, concealed spots in public spaces, later to be collected by the client. Neither buyer, seller nor courier ever cross paths in person. The operators plan to use the funds to build out a new service “Eternos” — combining encrypted messaging services, a privacy-focused browser, automated dispute resolution and an over-the-counter marketplace and crypto exchange. Scheduled for Dec. 16, the token sale will offer investors bundles of 100 tokens, conferring rights to a 0.003% share of company profits. The tokens are valued at $100 apiece, payable in Bitcoin (BTC). Issuance is set at 1,470,000 tokens, accounting for 49% of Eternos’ value and pledging $500 in monthly dividends for those purchasing more than 100 tokens. Forklog has warned readers the project may turn out to be an exit-scam. The numbers are based on a forecast of $15 million monthly revenue, which the operators justify citing their current growth metrics. Hydra claims it has a user base of over 3 million, processing over 100,000 transactions daily for illicit substances, hacking services, forged documents, stolen data and cash. As of June 2019, Russian investigative site Proekt confirmed that Hydra had 2.5 million registered accounts, 393,000 of which had made at least one purchase. Dark predecessors The crypto industry’s most infamous darknet marketplace remains Silk Road, which launched in February 2011 before being shut down by the authorities in October 2013. Its founder Ross Ulbricht — aka “Dread Pirate Roberts” — was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 2015, convicted of money laundering and aiding in the distribution of drugs, computer hacking and fraud, among other charges. In 2017, U.S. authorities shuttered the major darkweb marketplace Alphabay, through which vendors had purportedly hawked fentanyl, heroin, weapons, malware and a series of Bitcoin-related heists.