A Californian man was arrested last Friday while being accused of paying thousands of dollars in bitcoin to hire a hitman to kill a woman he briefly dated. The suspect allegedly found a group advertising homicidal services on the dark web last month.
The woman had repeatedly asked him to leave her alone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.
The suspect, identified as Scott Quinn Berkett, 24, allegedly sent $13,000 in bitcoin payments between April 5 and May 5 in the suspected murder-for-hire scheme, along with another $1,000 wired to an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman, authorities said.
After he allegedly tried to set up the hit, the release said the group, which the FBI believes was a scam, called a news organization. The media outlet then contacted the FBI, giving the agency Berkett’s screen name "Ula77 '' and documentation of payments, an affidavit said.
"The information provided [to the dark web group] was specific about the identity and location of [his intended victim], as well as social media accounts, nicknames, email, and a distinctive tattoo" the intended victim has, the affidavit said.
Berkett and the woman met last year online before she flew out to meet him in person in California. During the trip she decided to break it off with him, describing him as too “sexually aggressive.” He allegedly continued to contact her after she left.
In April, one of the woman’s relatives texted Berkett’s father about the unwanted contact and Berkett responded, "consider the matter closed," the release said.
When Berkett allegedly ordered the hit later that month on April 28, he said he wanted it to look like an" accident" or a "robbery gone wrong."
"So long as she is dead," he is accused of writing. "I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process."
The undercover agent contacted Berkett a week ago, sending a photo of the woman to confirm she was the intended victim. During their discussion, Berkett allegedly demanded the agent send a photo of her body after her murder with her tattoo visible.