How Resourceful Drug Dealers are Using Instagram

Sophisticated cyber-criminals are using technology to advertise their wares on Instagram.


Law enforcement agencies have had their work cut out trying to keep up with recent trends in online crime. But as technology and policing become more sophisticated, so do criminals. According to VentureBeat, some drug dealers are getting inventive with methods to sell on Instagram without repercussions.

VentureBeat contributor Fletcher Babb, has been covering this story for several months now, and has identified seven steps in setting up an anonymous drug-dealing presence on Instagram:

  1. Get a laptop
  2. Install Ubuntu (a variant of the linux operating system)
  3. Install Virtualbox, which allows users to run another OS inside Ubuntu
  4. Run an Android emulator inside Virtualbox
  5. Subscribe to a VPN (virtual private network) which will anonymize your outgoing data
  6. Connect the Android OS to the VPN
  7. Download Instagram through the emulator, and start posting.

At this point the Instagram account will be connected to a phone that doesn’t really exist, and tracking the data associated with the account is nearly impossible. Combined with an anonymous messaging app for discussing specific transactions and an anonymous payment system like Bitcoin, this process makes transactions essentially untraceable, according to Babb.

Instagram is by no means the only platform making less than legal transactions — Reddit has a gun trading community that has been accused of acting suspiciously. And even though Silk Road keeps getting shut down, the site is not without competition.

As crime develops, it will always find ways to use new technologies to either expand its customer base or to outfox the police. And try as they might to keep up, law enforcement agencies frequently seem to be one step behind.