Although there are some established places to buy and sell, the black market is a blanket term for any illegal underground economy where people can buy and sell both legal and illegal items under the table. Whether it’s purchasing something on the dark web or out of somebody’s trunk, if it’s a loophole around the established legal market it’s considered illegal and therefore part of the black market. Interested in how economically deep this shadow actually goes? Here are some truly strange things available for those desperate enough to acquire them.
Human Body Parts Aren’t Hard To Come By
Although incredibly dangerous and disturbing, human body parts such as bones, organs, and blood are some of the most desired items sold illegally across the globe. Whether they’re on a wait list for a transplant or have more sinister reasons, thousands of people are willing to either buy or sell body parts for exponential amounts of money.
According to the World Health Organization, of the 107,000 organ transplants done in 2010, it is estimated that 10% of them were illegally acquired organs. Many people travel to other countries for their surgeries where the price of organs is far cheaper mostly because they were questionably obtained.
Stolen Crude Oil Affects Gas Prices
Considering the insatiable desire for it and the strict government regulations placed on it, the illegal selling and distribution of crude oil have slowly grown to become one of the largest industries of the black market. It’s become an increasing problem in Mexico as there’s little to no regulation on it because of the current drug wars.
In 2010, Mexico’s primary oil supplier was shocked when they discovered that 712 of their pipelines had been tapped. These thieves often sell their score on the side of the highway or to a middle man who then sells it to larger vendors such as gas stations, which the rest of the population then puts in their cars.
There’s A High Demand For Exotic Pets And Animals
The selling of exotic pets and animals has been a staple aspect of the black market forever. People are willing to pay a fortune to own rare animals which are smuggled from all parts of the world and rarely in humane ways.
Along with live animals, poachers are well-known for selling exotic or endangered animal parts that can be used as decoration or supposedly have healing or other medical benefits. Items such as these include ivory tusks, tiger bone pills, antelope scarves, rhino horns, various pelts, and more.
Human Hair Can Go For Big Bucks
For a long time, real, soft, and healthy human hair has had a consistent space in the black market. In a typical salon, quality human hair used for extensions can cost anywhere between hundreds or thousands of dollars. These are low numbers compared to the cost of a full wig.
In robberies referred to as “hair heists,” salons can lose tens of thousands of dollars if their collections of human hair are stolen. Furthermore, there are instances when strange people want to buy genuine human hair for whatever reason.
Cosmetics And Plastic Surgery Pose A Serious Threat
Whether it’s silicone enhancements, Botox serums, youth creams, or any other kind of cosmetic, you can find it on the black market. In some instances, you can even pay to have surgical procedures done for a significantly lower price rather than going through a real doctor.
However, for women, particularly, these pose a serious threat, as the low price is more enticing, and the risk is far higher. Injecting these underground products without consulting a doctor often leads to allergic reactions, serious infections, and even death.
People Love Their Laundry Detergent
Strangely, laundry detergent, especially Tide, is another product that has a quick turnaround on the black market. While most people might assume this is because it contains ingredients necessary to make drugs, that’s not the case.
It’s because laundry detergent is so expensive that people steal it specifically to flip it for a quick profit. Because it’s stolen, it can be sold for significantly lower prices, with all of the money going into the seller’s pockets.
Liquid Gold A.K.A Baby Formula
There’s a reason that baby formula is usually locked up behind the cash registers with other expensive products. Some even refer to it as “liquid gold” because it’s one of the top shoplifted items in the world. One reasoning behind this is because drug dealers use it to cut substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine to extend their product and because it’s virtually untraceable to uneducated buyers.
Furthermore, it’s commonly bought on the black market because a small amount of the formula can cost between $13 and $15, making it extremely valuable. Also, those without means might resort to the black market in order to feed their babies.
Cigarettes Are A Huge Hit
It seems strange that an item that’s not only legal but can be bought at just about any liquor and grocery store in the United States would be popular on the black market. But the reason is taxes. Raising taxes on cigarettes is not only easy to do, but taxes on them have consistently continued to rise in the last few decades.
It’s an easy way for states to make extra revenue, knowing people will continue to buy them. For this reason, people will purchase untaxed, cheap, cigarettes in bulk on the black market and then resell them on the street for an attractive price.
Pirated Media And Computer Software Is Increasingly Common
Whether it’s music, movies, anti-virus software, video games, computer software, and other online copyrighted materials are one of the most popular and conventional products on the black market. In China, this is a massive problem with physical factories producing only counterfeit CDs and DVDs.
According to a Global Piracy Study by the Business Software Alliance, the global piracy rate for PC software is now at 42%. The other issue it’s incredibly simple to do, with young children even being able to download pirated content and software illegally.
Cell Phones Are Quick And Easy Cash
Surprisingly, cell phones, even older models are popular to sell and buy in underground markets. While there’s nothing illegal about buying and selling cell phones, there is if they were stolen in the first place. Apparently, there’s a large profit potential on the black market for cell phones which has made them one of the top items stolen by thieves.
At the moment, cell phones make upwards of forty percent of all robberies in the United States. This is essentially because they’re easy to steal and can be sold for quick cash on the black market.
There’s Still A Market For The Original Four Loko
Of course, a variety of alcoholic beverages on the black market, however, one of the most sought after is the infamous original Four Loko. A cheap, tall can of high-potency alcohol mixed with caffeine that was beloved by broke college kids looking to get dangerously intoxicated.
Unsurprisingly, this original recipe had deadly effects, leading state and federal regulators to either ban it or only sell a modified formula. Hearing this, some people began stockpiling the “original” Four Loko and selling them online for markups of over 300%.
The selling of humans of any kind is not uncommon to the black market and is debatably one of the most lucrative forms of underground sales. In a study performed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking generates an astounding estimated $32 billion a year.
According to the Ark of Hope for Children, as of 2012, there are more than 20.9 million victims of trafficking worldwide with 1.5 million victims in the United States alone.
No More Paying Membership Fees
For people who are unwilling to pay monthly or yearly membership fees for streaming or other services, you can buy lifetime memberships on the black market for a fraction of the cost. How can you purchase a lifetime membership?
Well, the account you buy is paid for with stolen credit cards that can’t be traced back to you and are charged automatically. It sounds easy enough, but don’t be surprised if one day your Netflix isn’t working and there’s police at your door.
Breast Milk For Those Desperate Enough
For parents who can’t breastfeed, breast milk is an incredibly high commodity, especially if they don’t want to feed their child baby formula. According to Business Insider, an estimated 26% of North Americans exclusively breastfeed, which means the rest have to rely on baby formula or milk banks.
So, for those who desire real breast milk, and either can’t afford it or don’t have access to a milk bank, the black market becomes an option. However, when parents turn to online markets to purchase breast milk, there are huge risks as they don’t always know if it’s clean or where it came from.
People Want White Teeth Regardless Of The Dangers
Another legal and easily accessible product that is sold on the black market is teeth whitener. After United States laws began limiting the amount of peroxide legal to use in commercial teeth whitener, foreign countries stepped in to fill the demand for the “good stuff.”
Foreign versions then began to appear with peroxide levels well beyond what was legal to be produced in the US which was then sold online or brought back to the United States and sold under the table.
Male Sperm Is Available But Dangerous
Believe it or not, male sperm is a hot commodity in some places in the world such as Canada, where it’s illegal for donors to be financially compensated for their sperm or eggs. So, someone can go onto the black market and sell their own to earn some money.
Furthermore, in China, there is a shortage of sperm banks which has driven some couples trying to conceive to look to the black market in order to find a donor. Unsurprisingly, sperm is one of the most dangerous products to buy as buyers have no way of telling if the sperm is safe and STD free.
Fake Diplomas Are No Problem
Although a physical diploma is commonly used as a decorative piece of paper to display your wall, there are those who don’t want to work for them.
So, they can go on the black market and purchase a virtually flawless degree from just about anywhere with their name on it. Doctor, lawyer, Harvard, Yale, you name it, and it can be done. The only problem is that it will be found out that you’re lying sooner or later.
Narcotics have one of the largest presences on the black market at both the lowest and highest levels. From someone selling ten dollars of marijuana out of their house to drug lords smuggling hundreds of kilos of cocaine across international borders, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.
However, the illegal selling of pharmaceuticals is a major contributor to the profits being made in the black market of drugs. According to USA Today, more than 5 million people in the United States abuse prescription painkillers, a number that can only be achieved through the use of the black market.
Credit Cards, Of Course
If you know where to look, you can purchase either both physical stolen credit cards or their numbers. First, the stolen credit card numbers are sold to brokers who buy them in bulk. Those are then sold to carders who sell and ship them to buyers.
The price for a valid credit card can be as high as $100 depending on the information known about the card because the more information is known, the less likely to get caught. People who then buy the stolen cards use them to buy expensive products which they can then resell for a hefty profit.
Weapons Of All Kinds
The illegal buying and selling of weapons are one of the oldest types of transactions on the black market. From knives and guns to high-tech spy gadgets and explosives, all these weapons are available if you know where to look and who to talk to. Terrifying enough, this aspect of the black market puts these weapons in the hands of gangs, governments, and other wrong people’s hands.
A lot of this is done through smuggling which cuts out the middleman and makes it easy to go around established laws. According to Insight, in Mexico, someone can obtain a gun after just a few Internet searches.