While not as big as that of Russia’s or Germany’s, nor as advanced as that of China’s, the French underground has a distinct identity that sets it apart from other regional underground scenes. Also unlike other underground markets, the French underground is very secretive, with sites that are well-hidden, with some even requiring membership fees and vetting.
Despite its secretive nature and potentially limited reach, the French underground appears to have a sizeable market that counts an estimated 40,000 members. While it's a comparatively small number, it boasts significant earnings. According to the Gendermarie Nationale and Police Nationale, the French underground collectively makes around 5-10 million euros a month.
The research also found how the French underground market is heavily characterized by the unique—if not genuinely alarming—products and services offered by its underground shops and marketplaces. Besides usual contraband items like drugs and weapons, its underground shops are also rife with services that offer ways to work around France's laws. Some of the services that are specific to this market include offers for driving license points1 and a proxy bank account creation service that allows buyers to create bank accounts anonymously.2
One seller was found providing euthanasia/suicide kits for 500 euros.3 What was noteworthy about this particular offering—besides its intended purpose—is that a potential customer was asked to pay double if they planned to use it on someone else, which implies murder by poisoning. A transaction concerning this particular product resulted in a purchase of 600 euros, paid in Bitcoin.
Here are some other notable numbers taken from the Trend Micro research into the French underground:
For a more detailed look at the French underground, read the full Trend Micro research paper, The French Underground: Under a Shroud of Extreme Caution.
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