Grams, possibly the first search engine for the black market, is almost a carbon copy of Google’s homepage – with a different aim.
Grams was launched April 15 as a "darknet market search engine" which finds and sorts items by relevance, price and newest items.
Google’s evil twin
The beta site, which was announced by a user known only as “gramsadmin” on Reddit
, can be used to look for anything from illicit drugs and guns to stolen credit card information and fake IDs on the Internet’s black market, whose underground ecosystem is commonly referred to as the “Darkweb.”
The site currently draws results from eight black markets, including Agora, BlackBank, C9, Evolution, Mr. Nice Guy, Pandora, The Pirate Market, and, of course, the reincarnation of the infamous SilkRoad: SilkRoad2.
“Within the next two weeks Grams will have a system similar to Google Adwords where vendors can buy keywords and their listings will go to the top of the search results when those keywords are searched for. They will be bordered with an advertisement disclaimer so users know those are paid results,” said gramsadmin.
The new website is accessible only through the anonymizing Tor browser and links users to underground merchants whose sites were only available to users who knew the exact URL for their site. One could argue that these “Darkweb” markets just got a lot less dark.
The newly established search engine also contains such features as allowing users to filter out markets they don’t want to see and change the currency of the prices including Bitcoin for which the exchange rate is updated every 5 minutes.
Besides the multi-colored logo, the engine also mimics Google in other ways such as the “I Feel Lucky” button.
Grams also allows one to unearth sites that have gone down as a result of a DDoS attack, for example, and which re-launched under new URLs.
Search engine results also displays the vendor’s name, location and price of the product.
‘Welcome to the neighborhood’
Without providing his real name, the user only known as “gramsadmin” explained why he decided to launch the search engine, citing overwhelming demand in an interview with Wired:
“I noticed on the forums and Reddit people were constantly asking ‘where to get product X?’ and ‘which market had product X?’ or ‘who had the best product X and was reliable and not a scam? I wanted to make it easy for people to find things they wanted on the darknet and figure out who was a trustworthy vendor.”
The developer of the search engine made the API to site available to owners allowing the engine to find their product listings. And if we take online forum conversations as an indicator, Grams is planning to expand its market listings by contacting more underground merchants and including them in their engine.
Gramsadmin also announced that he has other plans, such as creating merchants’ profiles pages with accompanying customer reviews and automating the process of buying ad-space. He admitted that it will be hard to find skilled and trustworthy programmers while remaining anonymous.
Grams was the target of a DDoS attack after the beta version was launch. In the interview with wire he stated: “It took us down for a few hours. [But] every major darknet site gets DDoS’d though so I took it as a ‘Welcome to the neighborhood’ message.”