Money - Marketing
By: - at May 14, 2014

Top 15 Unusual Items Sold in the Black Market

Top 15 Unusual Items Sold in the Black Market.

While the name may have you to believe otherwise, the black market is not a physical place. Thanks to television and film industries, you may get the image of various shady people standing next to carts and stands trying to sell you all types of illegal things but thatís not typically how the black market works. The black market, which is also referred to as the underground market, gets its name from the notion that the illegal selling and buying of merchandise takes place out of sight of the watchful eyes of the government.

In the black market, either owning the item itself can be illegal or the means of how the seller and the purchaser came to have them can be illegal. Black markets exist all over the world but seem to flourish in heavily regulated areas. You can buy anything from automobile parts, to childrenís toys, to exotic animals. There is a common misconception that everything bought via the black market is less expensive if purchased legally but that is not always true. Sometimes inexpensive items that are hard to acquire but are in high demand can be sold for a lot of money on the black market. The main purpose of the black market is for the seller to profit while meeting consumers demands but not always their expectations.

15)  Copyright Media
How many times have you gone to the movies or watched a DVD and had to sit through those few seconds of reading that piracy warning? Well the black market is the main reason that warning exists because people in countries where copyright law isnít strictly enforced have been illegally recording movies and selling them for profit all over the world. Sellers, often called street vendors, get the movies in their possession then sell the movies to consumers at heavily discounted prices. These street vendors sell anything from television series, video games and even movies still playing in theaters. They sell items out of the trunk of their cars, out of backpacks and even on personal websites. Due to advances in digital technology, many of the films that have been illegally copied still retain the same qualities as the original.

Bootlegging media is illegal
Copyrighted media is sold on the black market.

14)  Tobacco
In 2011, 43.8 million people smoked cigarettes in the United States alone. The government has tried to do everything to deter cigarette use from posting reports that link cigarette smoking with cancer and other health problems to putting warning labels on cigarettes as well as cans of chewing tobacco. Theyíve even severely taxed cigarettes, making them more expensive for individuals to purchase. In 1996, the average retail price for a pack of cigarettes in the United States was around $1.86. Today, the average retail price for a pack for cigarettes in the United States is over $5.00 due to an increase in government taxes. Some states have high taxes, while others have lower taxes. Illegally exporting and importing one truck full of cigarettes from a state with low taxes to a state with high taxes can equal out to nearly one million dollars in profit. The nicotine found in cigarettes is habit forming but the cost is too expensive for many smokers. This motivates certain groups to participate in the illegal smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products, making them cheaper for the people illegally purchasing as well as selling the cigarettes but not necessarily cheaper for the consumer.

Cigarettes can be sold illegally
Cigarettes are bought and illegal sold for cheaper prices in more heavily taxed states.

13)  Alcohol
Youíve probably heard about bootlegging, also known as rum-running, existing during the prohibition era but did you know that the selling and purchasing of illegal alcohol still currently takes places on the black market? Even in the United States after the repeal of prohibition, bootlegging is still an activity that takes place every day. Consumers can avoid paying taxes on alcohol by buying liquor illegally transported. For instance, the state of Virginia has lost over $20 million dollars from bootlegging activities. Many liquors and spirits may be legal to purchase and own in some countries but illegal in others. Various individuals find ways to import and export those liquors on the black market to people who wouldnít be able to purchase them otherwise.

Illegal Moonshine
Youíve probably heard about bootlegging, also known as rum-running, existing during the prohibition era but did you know that the selling and purchasing of illegal alcohol still currently takes places on the black market?

12)  Weapons
Guns, along with the people who wield them, are responsible for over 100,000 people being shot each year. Similar to alcohol, some weapons are illegal to own in certain countries. These countries have strict laws prohibiting consumers to have certain weapons. With the black market, weapons are purchased legally, sometimes stolen, from one or more countries and then sold illegally to other countries. This type of activity usually benefits people such as gun collectors and criminals. Criminals especially benefit from illegally purchasing guns over the black market because it makes it harder for law enforcement to trace the criminal to the crime due to the gun not being registered to them. Many people who have shot or murdered someone else with a gun purchased on the black market get away with their crimes.

Guns purchased illegally
Weapons are illegally bought and sold on the black market.

11)  Animals
Illegal animal purchases probably isnít much of a shocker. Misguided individuals purchase rare and exotic animals on the black market every day. Smugglers and hunters are thriving on selling animals both alive as well as dead to consumers. You can purchase anything from Bengal tigers to orangutans. Some people are willing to pay top dollar for animals that are illegal for them to have as pets. The Philippine government condemned the buying and selling of the geckos, which some believe can cure illnesses as well as diseases. However, making it illegal to sell geckos hasnít actually stopped people from buying them. A gecko can be sold for $1,160.00, 50,000.00 pesos in their money, on the black market even if there is no proof that using them to cure illnesses actually works. There of course are other animals and their furs, which consumers purchase on the back market. Some zoos that arenít heavily or properly regulated may purchase animals for their exhibits. Many animals have become endangered or even extinct due to poachers hunting them to sell things like fur and ivory on the black market. The cost for buying these animals on the black market varies. You could buy a live chimpanzee for $50, a live tiger for $50,000 or even a pound of bear bile for up to $200,000.

Exotic Bengal Tiger
Exotic animals are sold on the black market.

10)  Almonds (and other foods)
Did you know that package of raw almonds you picked up from the grocery store isnít actually raw? While it may say raw on the package, almost all almonds purchased in the United States have to go through some form of pasteurization in order to be sold legally. The reason being is that almonds contain a natural ingredient used to make cyanide, which is an extremely deadly gas that has been used during times of war. Because of certain issues within the law, only farmer markets are allowed to sell completely raw almonds. Raw almonds have numerous health benefits over pasteurized almonds and some people will seek out ways to find them, this is where the black market comes in. Believe it or not, even farmers will participate in the illegal selling of raw almonds to people on local forums and websites. While almonds are definitely one sought out food on the black market, it certain isnít the only one. Pepinos, more commonly known as sea cucumbers, are illegal in China and other areas because of over fishing. Banning the fishing of sea cucumbers has only strengthened their demand in the black market, especially with China. Sea cucumbers are seen as a rare delicacy in many Asian countries and individuals from the countries are willing to pay hefty prices for them.

Raw Almonds on a tree
Raw almonds that are not pasturized are illegal and sold on the black market.

Sea Cucumber
Sea Cucumbers are illegal in China but can be bought on the black market.

9)  Sex Trafficking and Prostitution
Sex trafficking and prostitution are two illegal operations that are booming all over the world. With a bit of effort and a lot of risk, you can find several different sex trafficking rings in various countries. Sex trafficking involves selling human beings to other human beings for the purpose of sex. Many, if not all, of those involved in sex trafficking are in it against their will. Sex trafficking rings cater to different interests and fetishes of their clients therefore, you can find men, women and children in sex trafficking rings. Some of these forced sex workers are runaways or have been kidnapped or sold by their own families. People living in a country with strict rules and laws against human trafficking travel to other countries where the laws arenít heavily enforced in order to participate in illegal activities. Prostitution is another activity that seems to flourish on the back market. While prostitution may not seem like too bad when it comes to other illegal activities, both the sex worker and the person paying for sex run the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Not only that, there are other dangerous risks involved including jail time, bodily harm and even death. Unfortunately, that doesnít stop people. Some people have specific interests and fetishes where some sex workers involved in prostitution are willing to offer those things for a price.

Human Trafficking
Human trafficing and prostitution can be found on the black market.

8)  Transportation
Public transportation providers such as buses, subways and taxicabs are legal because the government regulates them.  However, in certain areas using public transportation can be expensive or difficult to get to and it's for this reason that transportation provided by the black market does extremely well. In many United States cities, individuals offer private carpooling and something similar to taxicab services where people pay private unlicensed companies to be driven to their destinations. Some people involved in illegal transportation services do not even realize that they are illegal. In contrast to a carpool with your coworkers where you might pay them money for gas costs, an illegal transportation service usually involves you not knowing the person providing you with transportation and they are able to charge you any cost, completely pocketing any profits they receive from you as well as other people paying for their services. Legal transportation services companies pay taxes and are required to have insurance for their drivers as well as proper licenses. An illegal transportation service may not have any of these things and unless youíre adamant about checking, you might later discover that the person driving you around doesnít even have a license.

Illegal Transportation can be found on the black market
Illegal transportation can be found on the black market.

7)  Sugar
Thatís right, that sweet substance that you use to sweeten your coffee or cereal can also be purchased on the black market. Itís pretty easy to purchase common household sugar and even turbinado, raw sugar, in the United States but certain countries, like Malaysia, have set up a black market for it because itís much harder to come by. Turbinado is a healthy type of sugar that is brown in color and it doesnít have as many calories as white sugar, which is healthier for your body. For those who live in Malaysia there are only a limited amount of companies who are legally allowed to sell turbinado, which means an increase in price for consumers. Those consumers not wanting to pay hefty prices for the healthier sugar can obtain it over the black market but as usual itís not without its risks. Cheaper sugar sometimes means it was poorly handled and sugar is a breeding ground for certain bacteria as well as bugs that can cause serious health risks to a person who consumes them. Not only that, an increase in sugar consumption, even of sugar that is better for you, can lead to health problems such as diabetes.

Turbinado is sold on the black market in Malaysia.

6)  Holy Water
You read that right, even holy water can be and is sold on the black market. In fact, many British Muslims have been warned that buying holy water from various criminal gangs is extremely dangerous. Criminals are telling British Muslims that the fake ĎZam Zamí water comes from Mecca but this is a lie. The water is actually from a spring, which is considered to be holy and visited by Muslims during their Hajj pilgrimage each year. This spring contains both arsenic and nitrates that can be fatal if consumed regularly. The tainted water can be purchased from various places in Britain. An Islamic bookshop was found to have sold around 20,000 liters, around 5,283 gallons, of Zam Zam water per week. This water is clearly unsafe for anyone to drink but people make millions selling it to naive and unsuspecting Muslims. Criminals selling the tainted liquid can make £3 for a small can, which transfers to about $1.60 USD. The Saudi Arabian government strictly watches authentic Zam Zam water and it is illegal to export it commercially. There is also belief that criminals were simply mixing common tap water and mixing it with salt to sell to Muslims who thought they were getting the real deal.

Holy Zam Zam water in Mecca
Holy water is sold on the black market from Mecca.

5)  Sperm
You can even get sperm on the black market, especially in China. If thatís not shocking enough for you, many times, you can get it for free. The sperm banks in China have a limited number of sperm donors and couples who have issues becoming pregnant are turning to the black market for help. These couples rely on forums, websites and postings to find potential donors who meet the specifications. Just like with anything else on the black market, buying sperm can be dangerous. First of all, relying on donors from the black market means that the entire process isnít monitored by the licensed doctors. Improper storing of sperm may lead to the procedure not working, not to mention some donors may have health issues and illnesses that they can pass on to women as well as their unborn child. Some couples wishing to get pregnant are willing to deal with the risks and search for donors who state that theyíre going to help. When sperm donation companies run into roadblocks, couples turn to the black market in hopes of adding another addition to their family.

Sperm is illegally sold in the black market.

4)  Japanese Flight Attendant Uniforms

Japan Airlines and Flight Attendants

Courtesy of

The black market sells everything from shoes, to purses, to jewelry and even Japanese flight attendant uniforms. Due to bankruptcy issues concerning Japan Airlines, the company had to lay off lots of people that included several flight attendants. If the bankruptcy wasnít bad enough, flight attendants were not returning their uniforms and chose to sell them on the black market instead. Youíre probably wondering why anyone would even want a used flight attendant uniform but there are several reasons why someone would buy one. Some criminals may want to purchase an authentic Japan Air flight attendant uniform as a means of helping them get through security at some airports. Others have a desire to use the uniforms in pornographic movies in the adult industry, while ome people even look up Japanese Airlines flight attendant uniforms for something as harmless as cosplay. Regardless of what people want the uniforms for, Japan Airlines is unhappy. Already dealing with the fact that their company is struggling, they donít need any more bad publicity. Countries that have no idea of Japan Airlinesí company issues may be even more reluctant to do business with Japan Airlines if they believe the company to be linked with questionable or dangerous activities.

3)  Video Game Scores
Massively Multiple Online Role-Playing Games, better known as MMORPGs,  are becoming more and more popular each year. In fact, some of these games can be downright addicting. Players of these games put in hours of time and effort, building up their characters as well as obtaining virtual money for their game accounts. People who make a profit on the black market have discovered that hacking a playerís account or even resulting to physical violence for their passwords then selling them to other people via the black market for real money is an illegal service that is in high demand. Unsuspecting players have lost time, effort and even money from hackers hacking into their account and stealing not only their passwords but sometimes even their personal information along with their identity. With various MMORPGs being developed, the demand for passwords and accounts for gamers with high rankings are becoming more popular than ever.

World of Warcraft, Online Gaming MMORPG
Online gaming scores can be sold on the black market.

2)  Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery
There are countless stories of people getting inexpensive plastic, cosmetic surgery or injections and having horrific results. Many of these surgeries and injections can be directly related to the black market. Many individuals displeased with their appearance but not wanting to pay thousands of dollars for legal procedures by a licensed surgeon travel to various countries where people, usually untrained and unlicensed, offer those same procedures for much cheaper. More often than not, the procedures are extremely dangerous and individuals have been found using harmful substances on unsuspecting patients. There has even been a case, which involved a woman injecting patients with chemicals found in tire sealant and sealing those injections sites with cement for patients wanting to enhance their rear ends. These risky surgeries and procedures can lead to things like staph infections, disfigurement as well as death. Still hundreds of people are wiling to risk their health and lives for a "beauty" procedure.

Cosmetic surgery can be found on the black market

1)  Organs
Youíve probably heard someone joke about having to sell a kidney but the truth is people sell things like organs, bones, hair and blood on the black market every day. These are some of the most sought out items on the black market and some people are desperate enough to sell them for the right amount of money. The illegal trade of kidneys has risen to the point where around 10,000 operations on the black market take place every year. The demand for human organs is so high that many people will travel to certain countries and pay up to $200,000 for a kidney that has been harvested from someone for as little as $5,000. It goes without saying that there are numerous risks involved with selling and buying organs on the black market. You run the risk of illnesses, diseases and of course death. Organ harvesters depend on the desperation and vulnerability of victims, allowing them to profit. If youíre wondering how much certain organs cost, the answer is that it varies from country to country. In the United States a kidney can sell for as much as $262,000, while in China the selling price is $62,000 then in India it drops down to $15,000. Other prices for organs and other body parts: $2,519 for small intestine, a heart for $119,000 and a scalp for $607.

Human organs can be harvested for the black market
Human organs can be harvested for the black market.

Even though purchasing something off the black market may sound tempting, you have to remember that it is extremely illegal. What sounds too good to be true usually is. Many people have gotten sick and even died from purchasing illegal items, such as:  food, medicines and undergoing surgeries by untrained as well as unlicensed individuals. The illegal selling and purchasing of rare as well as endangered animals may result in harmful effects on nature along with wildlife. Due to the fact that the items you purchase on the black market are acquired illegally, you arenít able to hold anyone at fault for any defects. This means youíre stuck with your damaged goods and the seller isnít held responsible for it. If law enforcement catches you with illegally acquired items, youíll be the one charged and not the person you bought them from. Operating illegal services might be a quick way to make money but you risk things such as losing your job, your home and even jail time. The black market can be both dangerous and sneaky. You may see something online that you believe to be legal to purchase but you might be wrong. If youíre interested in saving money, make sure you do your research on the items you wish to buy to rule out the chances of illegally buying something from someone. Gangs and other organized crime members pray on the naive as well as unsuspecting, donít be the next one of their victims.





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