The Paradox of Marketing and Anonymity
June 22, 2016
While Dark Web users understand the perks of anonymity, especially for those those involved with illicit activity, consistency in maintaining that anonymity appears to be challenging. Geek.com published an article that showcases how one drug dealer revealed his identity while trying to promote his brand: Drug dealer busted after trying to trademark his dark web username. David Ryan Burchard of Merced, California reportedly made $1.25 million by selling marijuana and cocaine on the Dark Web before he trademarked the username he used to sell drugs, “caliconnect”. The article summarizes,
“He started out on Silk Road and moved on to other shady marketplaces in the wake of its highly-publicized shutdown. Burchard wound up on Homeland Security’s list of top sellers, though they were having trouble establishing a rock-solid connection between him and his online persona. They knew that Burchard was accumulating a large Bitcoin stash and that there didn’t appear to be a legitimate source. Then, finally, investigators got the break they were looking for. It seems that Burchard decided that his personal brand was worth protecting, and he filed paperwork to trademark “caliconnect.””
Whether this points to the proclivity of human nature to self-promote or the egoism of one person in a specific situation, it seems that all covering the story are drawing attention to this foiling move as a preventable mistake on Burchard’s part. Look no farther than the title of a recent Motherboard article: Pro-Tip: If You’re a Suspected Dark Web Drug Dealer, Don’t Trademark Your #Brand. The nature of promotions and marketing on the Dark Web will be an interesting area to see unfold.
Megan Feil, June 22, 2016