UPDATE: Apparently, this post was listed as a reference on RationalWiki – Red Room, but then someone put one of those little “look of disapproval faces” ಠ_ಠ next to it. Just to clarify – the email exchange did take place (you can see it in the screenshots below), but I never claimed that any of the red room sites were real. People have specifically said that they’ve lost money to some of these sites; so please don’t give your bitcoins to any of them!!
When I first started discussing the dark web, I did a post about red rooms entitled Are Deep Web Red Rooms Real?; of course, I was referencing that persistent urban legend that comes up on YouTube and elsewhere frequently.
I still have yet to find a genuine red room, but this time around, I thought I’d discuss the sites that call themselves red rooms, but are highly suspicious in nature. I’m not including the so-called “ISIS Red Room” in this, because that one is clearly fake (and has been well-publicized as such).
The other well-publicized fake red room was the A.L.I.C.I.A. red room, which, although fake, was rather creepy: ALICIA Deep Web que oculta esta pagina. You know, this one, with the recorded sounds?
As far as I know, the A.L.I.C.I.A. onion site is no longer running. So, onto the ones that are still up:
Fake Red Room #1
I’ve come across one site that is labeled “Shadow Web Red Rooms,” combining two different myths into one. The myths in question are the so-called “Shadow Web,” which is probably based on A warning to those thinking of accessing the shadow web; and the general myth of red rooms, which are (supposedly) sites in which someone is tortured and murdered on a live stream.
The site I’m thinking of looks like this (This one’s also been referenced on YouTube):
For the average person, this probably sounds disgusting, right? On the other hand, if you’re one who’s actually seeking out red rooms, it sounds too good to be true. (“All the vivid details!” “…red room shows are free for one year!”)
Supposedly, with this site, you have to download some kind of customized browser in order to watch the live streams (because, let’s face it – it’s near-impossible to live stream over the Tor network). Most of the sites that claim to be red rooms ask you to download some special software…this is getting more dubious by the minute.
While, in theory, this is possible, I’m highly suspicious of any site that asks me to download “customized browsers” or “customized software” that I’m unfamiliar with, particularly if that software is designed to watch something like live murder. My feeling about this one is that it’s an FBI honeypot site, or simply a scam (and we all know Tor is rampant with scams – those are the most common).
I have come across several other sites like this, where you basically had to do the same thing – send them an email, they would reply with a bitcoin address, and then they would give you the info on how to access it. (Hmm…that doesn’t sound fishy at all!)
If anyone knows for sure whether or not this site has any validity to it, let me know. Perhaps my friends over at Stop Tor Scam | List of Possible Tor Scams With Proofs or Illegally downloaded blog can investigate this one. (Not that I’m suggesting anyone watch snuff films, but…)
Shadow Web, Revisited!
In one of my earliest posts, Is the Shadow Web a Reality? (Updated), I discussed another well-publicized site that called itself “The Shadow Web,” that basically looked like this:
One of the strange things about this site is the link at the bottom, which leads to a YouTube video of the aforementioned creepypasta. Now, this is highly suspicious, because why would someone running a genuine red room featuring torture and murder care about a stupid creepypasta (particularly if it were inaccurate)?
The same person (or people) maintain a site that looks like this:
The bitcoin address is different, but the email address is the same, leading me to the conclusion that it’s the same scammer.
So here’s the update: there’s yet another site that calls itself The Shadow Web, which looks very similar, except that there’s a large yellow logo at the top:
This site, like its previous incarnation, has an oddity in the description (not shown in the above picture): they claim that “You can access free 100s of other websites with special extension like .LLL / .rdos” if you pay the bitcoin fee and join. Personally, I’ve only just heard of these top-level domains, but I highly doubt that they exist, because I’ve looked at lists of all the existing TLDs, and never seen these names before.
If they’re not completely made up (and this “shadow web” thing works at all), then they may have been created exclusively for this network. Still, it strange that I want to try this out just to see if it actually works?
It is, oddly enough, run by the same person (or people) as the previous site, because the contact email address at the bottom is the same (which also raises some red flags). So this time around, I decided to correspond with the supposed person in charge:
Me: Hi there – I’m interested in accessing the shadow web, but I’d like to know, can you show a sample of the content first? Thanks.
Shadow: Hi, sorry for the delay. We got many many mails with many questions. Unfortunately your mail goes in our spam folder. We just discover it. To your question. outside the shadow web. If I do, I will loose access to several important pages. You can trust us. It works 100%. Its [sic] a software package with a special browser and a manual how to install and use it. Its very easy to install. Works on every OS. It comes with several key-files, you need this for getting access to these sites. If you have further questions let me know.
“You can trust us. It works 100%.” Where have I heard that before? Only in every spy movie and crime show I’ve ever watched. So I wrote back again, asking for some clarification on the matter.
Me: Hi – thanks for your reply. I do have some other questions. How do I know that the software you require doesn’t have malware embedded in it?
It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I have been infected with malware via Tor sites before, and I want to be careful. Thank you for getting back to me, though.
And remind me, how many bitcoin do you charge again?
Shadow: Hi, it would make no sense to have a malware [sic] in the browser. The browser works for SW only. Its not possible to open other websites like CW or Tor. [ok…hmm…]
You can run it in a VM. You can scan it with all apps.
Its not useful to spy anything. If you have access to the SW there is not more you need…
Just 0.5 BTC is ok. It covers my expenses for my servers and websites.
Thanks for PGP.
I will use it if I sent you the links if you buy.
For the safe and totally anonymous way I do the payment with the satochibox [sic]. You can click on the link. It will open a box where you get the wallet. Its [sic] an anonymous wallet from satochibox. The bitcoin will then sent from them to my wallet. After payment you get the download links for the software, SW Browser and keyfiles for access the network.
If you don’t want to use the satochibox you can sent the BTC to my wallet
After receiving I sent [sic] you the files from this mail.
Up to you how you like.
Don’t worry everything is clear and safe. I’m not a scammer.
“I’m not a scammer.” Ah, now I feel so reassured! By the way, there are many reports of people getting scammed through Satoshi box as well: SatoshiBox.com Reviews and Ratings. As they say, “A fool and his bitcoins are soon parted.”
Well, this is where we left it off, but I’m highly reluctant to trust anyone who wants me to send them bitcoin with no reassurance that they’ll give back what’s promised. You know what would be hilarious?
If “Shadow” saw this blog post and tried to defend his (her?) position!
What I would like to know is if anyone else who has more experience with Tor than I do has corresponded any further with people offering similar “services.”
As a matter of fact, YouTuber Seek the Truth featured a video called Deep Web Red Rooms 2, examining the legend and investigating some of the sites that claimed to be red rooms. In it, he has a very similar conversation to the one I had with the “shadow web” guy. It just strikes me as odd – it can’t be a coincidence, can it? For all I know, it’s the exact same person using a different email address. Check the video out; it’s quite interesting!
So, my fellow dark web users – do you know if all of these instances are definitely scams? Have they tried to pull other such ripoffs?
Besides, if this is anything like the “red room” in Fifty Shades of Grey, I’ll pass, thanks. (*shudder*)