The cryptomarket lifecycle and mortality risks

A/Prof James Martin1

1Swinburne University Of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Each year, over half a billion dollars of illicit drugs are distributed through online illicit marketplaces known as cryptomarkets. While cryptomarkets have been the subject of a rapidly growing number of studies, most of these focus on either individual or small numbers of sites. This study uses publicly available data from more than 100 cryptomarkets to develop a taxonomy of the various stages of the cryptomarket lifecycle, including infancy, adolescence and maturity. Presented also is an analysis of the four main sources of cryptomarket mortality, including voluntary exits, exit scams, hacks and law enforcement takedowns.


James Martin is Associate Professor in Criminology at the School of Social Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology. James has been researching cryptomarkets since 2012, and has introduced key concepts and terminology in the field. James is one of the founding members of the Cryptomarkets Research Hub, an international research network specialising in the study of cryptomarkets and the darknet drugs trade. His first book, Drugs on the Darknet: How Cryptomarkets are Transforming the Global Trade in Illicit Drugs, was cited in the trial of Ross Ulbricht, administrator of the infamous cryptomarket Silk Road.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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