Dr. James Wan, a Georgia-based physician, pled guilty to charges of orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot via the dark web. Using Bitcoin to conduct transactions, Wan believed he was operating under the shield of anonymity that the cryptocurrency often provides. This grim plot aimed to assassinate his girlfriend through a contrived carjacking scenario. However, the operation unraveled before any harm could be done, thanks to vigilant law enforcement agencies.
The U.S. Department of Justice disclosed that Wan’s venture into the dark web commenced in April 2022. He meticulously gathered details, from his girlfriend’s social media information to specifics about her vehicle. Moreover, to seal the deal, Wan pledged multiple Bitcoin payments totaling approximately $24,200.
How it went wrong for Dr. Wan
Initially, Dr. Wan transferred a 50% down payment, equivalent to around $8,000 in Bitcoin, to an escrow wallet. Unfortunately for him, the transaction faltered as the funds reached an incorrect address. Undeterred, he transferred another $8,000 a week later to ensure the operation’s continuation. Additionally, Wan became restless, probing the marketplace’s forum with questions about the timeline and progress of his grim request.
Although he thought he was taking all the necessary steps for a faultless plan, his endeavor faced a crucial obstacle. His inquiries and transactions did not go unnoticed. Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, lauded the exceptional work of her team in averting this heinous plot, ensuring that Wan would face the repercussions under the full might of the criminal justice system.
According to federal authorities, Dr. Wan is not an isolated case in attempting to leverage Bitcoin for criminal activities. Last year, the FBI charged a Utah man who shelled out $16,000 in Bitcoin to hire a hitman for a double murder. Additionally, a Nevada woman received a 5-year prison sentence for a similar plot involving her ex-husband. It seems that the pseudonymous nature of Bitcoin is attracting a nefarious clientele, believing it provides a sanctuary from detection and prosecution.
While Wan’s case exposes the dark corners of the web and cryptocurrency, it also serves as a potent reminder. The promise of anonymity in the digital sphere is not infallible. Law enforcement agencies are increasingly adapting and improving their methods for tracking these underhanded operations. Consequently, those who think they can evade justice by merely transacting in Bitcoin are in for a harsh reality check. Dr. Wan is now awaiting sentencing, scheduled for January 2024, where he will face the penalties for his would-be crime.