A 43-year-old Minnesota man has been charged with murdering his wife after a failed attempt to get someone from the dark web to do it.
According to investigators, Stephen Carl Allwine tried to use a site called Besa Mafia to hire a contract killer in February 2016 to off his wife and make it look like a car accident. When that failed, he poisoned her, shot her in the head, and tried to make it look like a suicide, according to police.
Much is being made of the dark web angle. “I think the big difference between this and a more common murder is the dark web,” local detective Sgt. Randy McAlister told a reporter. “It’s the internet connection. That’s what’s really been taking a lot of time.”
Besa Mafia, the site Allwine used, is one of the greatest dark web scams of all time.
Besa Mafia claims to be a hookup site for hitmen and clients. Clients supposedly upload details and photos of the target, then specify whether they want them harassed, beaten up, or murdered, and how. Prospective hitmen can also sign up and list their skills.
However, no one ever gets murdered. Instead, the admins take users’ money, turn around, and give information to the police. When the customer asks why the hit never happened, the admins supply a string of excuses until the customer is arrested.
We know this because independent researchers hacked the site and analyzed the data, as reported by Motherboard.
Assassins have always been the bugbear of the dark web — a good example is this Daily Mail article. However, the idea that you can use the dark web to order up a hitman is unfounded.
Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the most famous dark web market ever, the drug site Silk Road, ordered six murders according to federal investigators. Five never happened, as far as the investigators could tell. The sixth turned into an indictment because the supposed hitman was actually a federal agent working undercover.
That situation, in which federal agents got together with the intended victim, staged a murder, and sent Ulbricht pictures as “proof,” may be the closest thing the dark web has had to a real hit. There are no known cases of hits successfully being ordered on the dark web; in fact, websites on the non-dark web have also been running this same scam for years. There are rumors of real hitmen sites that lurk on an even darker web, inaccessible even to regular Tor users. But to date there is no evidence that this is anything other than a good way to get ripped off by criminals or nabbed by police.