What You Need to Know About Dark Web Telegram Chat Groups and Channels
At first glance, Telegram looks like every other instant messaging app in the world. You can send messages to loved ones and join a chat group or channel with people who share the same interests as you—like "Game of Thrones" or advanced algebra. But first impressions can be deceiving, and Telegram is not always what it seems.
Dig a little deeper, and some of those chat groups and channels have users that want to scam you. These fraudsters might use social engineering techniques to steal your personal and financial details. Others might trick you into signing up for fake NFTs or a bogus cryptocurrency investment scheme. Sorry to break it to you, but Telegram is so much more than chatting to friends and exchanging cute cat GIFs.
Learn more about the top dark web Telegram channels/groups a little later, but first, understand how nefarious characters use this app.
What Are Dark Web Telegram Groups?
Telegram is one of the world's most popular instant messaging applications. It has 500 million monthly active users and generated 430 million downloads in 2021 alone. Pavel Durov launched Telegram in 2013.
Telegram Groups vs. Channels
At this point, it's important to distinguish between groups and channels, so you can understand what's happening on dark web Telegram:
Telegram groups are like groups in other messaging apps (think the more widely used WhatsApp). Members of these groups can exchange messages about all kinds of topics with other members.
Telegram channels allow admins to send one-way broadcast messages to subscribers of those channels. This enables admins to reach a large audience of people directly.
Is Dark Web Telegram Really the Dark Web?
Now, it's important to clear up the term "dark web" in relation to Telegram. Dark web Telegram merely refers to groups and channels that host illicit content—much of which originates from the dark web—or contain shady characters who want to steal your personal information or trick you into signing up for fake NFTs or crypto schemes. However, you don't need a dark web internet browser like Tor to access this content. Scammers, for example, exist on the regular Telegram app through the regular internet. Anyone can join these illicit groups and channels and access content.
Why Is Dark Web Telegram Allowed?
The question you might be asking is:
Why does Telegram, a regular-looking messaging app available on Google Play and the App Store, permit people to access this content?
The answer is complicated. Telegram, unlike some other messaging apps, provides end-to-end encrypted chats when a user selects the "Secret Chats" option in their settings. The content inside channels and groups is then encrypted between Telegram and its server, meaning ISPs can't access any data. That might sound cool if you're sending messages to a loved one, but it also means that third parties can't access illegal content—or do anything about it.
It can be pretty easy for a Telegram user like you to stumble into a channel or group with crypto scams, for example. However, Telegram knows anonymity is one of the reasons why people download this app in the first place. Sharing information with ISPs and other third parties will scare off some users and cause them to go elsewhere.
Does WhatsApp Host Dark Web Content, Too?
While people might try to scrape dark web content and post it in WhatsApp groups, this problem is not as extreme as on Telegram. That's because WhatsApp and Telegram have different attitudes toward privacy and anonymity, with the latter not willing to share data with ISPs and third parties if users have the "Secret Chats" option turned on in their settings.
How Do Dark Web Telegram Scams Impact You?
Here are some of the most common dark web Telegram scams:
Fake NFTs: A Telegram group or channel might look like it belongs to a popular NFT marketplace. However, scammers trick users into purchasing fake NFTs with no value. Even experienced NFT buyers can fall for these scams on Telegram and lose lots of money in the process.
Crypto scams: Even if a Telegram group or channel looks legitimate, it might contain fraudsters who trick users into signing up for a fake crypto investment. A scammer can then access the user's crypto wallet and steal their coins. According to the FTC, 7% of victims involved in crypto scams said their fraud occurred on Telegram.
Phishing attacks: A Telegram scammer can trick a user into handing over their personal and financial details through phishing. The scammer might pretend to be someone the user knows or trusts—such as a friend or government official—and ask them for money. Research shows that 5.6% of malicious phishing links were sent via Telegram between December 2020 and May 2021.
Bots: Scammers often use bot accounts to target users on Telegram. These bots might establish relationships with users and then ask for money or personal details over time. Bots might even send users links that contain malware.
How to Avoid a Dark Web Telegram Scam
Here are some ways to protect yourself when using Telegram:
Look at the grammar in Telegram channel/group names, descriptions, and messages. For example, a Telegram channel that belongs to a legitimate NFT marketplace is unlikely to contain spelling mistakes in communications.
Never give out personal information to strangers on Telegram.
Block users that ask you for personal or financial details.
If an NFT or cryptocurrency investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Stolen data from Telegram often ends up on the real dark web. Using a service like FYEO's active database—which alerts you when your credentials, passwords, and other data appear online—can help you take quick action when someone steals your personal information.
Here are some of the top dark web Telegram groups and channels that you need to know about and how they impact you:
1. We Leak Database
We Leak Database specializes in selling people's personal information, with sometimes hundreds of data records posted every day. It's full of members that might try to phish visitors and steal their data. Someone could damage your or take on your identity, apply for finance in your name, and damage your credit file with your personal and financial details.
2. Money Mart
Like We Leak Database, Money Mart sells personal data. However, its modus operandi is stealing data from carding. That's a form of credit card fraud that involves purchasing gift cards and then spending those gift cards on hard-to-trace goods. Fraudsters in Money Mart could scam you or phish your personal details and then cause you to become a victim of carding.
3. Narcotic Express DE
Narcotics Express is a closed Telegram group, meaning users must request access to view content. However, once they are accepted, these users can trade and purchase illicit drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamines. Even if you don't get in trouble with the law, paying for substances via a credit card or bank transfer could bite you in the backside if a group member doesn't deliver your goods or uses your details to commit fraud.
4. LAPSUS$ Telegram Channel
The LAPSUS$ Telegram group is home to hackers who attack governments and tech companies worldwide. Police in the U.K. recently investigated LAPSUS$, which also posts content on the dark web, and arrested seven suspects for cyber crimes. Even if you just poke around to see what's happening, you could end up on a list. As mentioned above, law enforcement checks this channel.
5. Dark Websites
Dark Websites is another one of the most popular dark web Telegram channels. It serves as a gateway to the real dark web by posting links to content not accessible through a regular internet browser. While this channel might technically be safe as it only posts links, channel users might participate in crypto scams and fake offers of NFTs, putting you at risk. You might also click on a link that takes you to a phishing site—known as an "off-platform scam."
6. Best Free Courses
Best Free Courses posts stolen content from Udemy courses on its Telegram channel. However, taking copyrighted content could see you end up with a lawsuit. Alternatively, you might click on a link that doesn't take you to a free course but somewhere else, such as a phishing website.
Dark web Telegram could put you at risk. While it might tempt you to visit dark web Telegram groups and channels, understand the risks—phishing, fake NFTs, bogus crypto investment schemes, etc.—and stay away from this content. Users can access this content through the regular Telegram app and become victims of fraud or get in trouble with the law.
FYEO's active database is one of the largest in the world, with over 23 billion leaked credentials, plaintext passwords, and phone numbers. It then alerts FYEO users when their details appear on the darknet and public web. In other words, FYEO tells you when the bad guys steal your data so you can take quick action.