News - Bitcoin scam: how a woman was tricked by a hitman

By Luc Vesters

Bitcoin scam: how a woman was tricked by a hitman

Bitcoin (BTC)
Scams, crime and fraud

A vengeful US woman wanted her ex-husband killed in 2016. To do so, she hired an assassin from the Darkweb, for $5,000 in Bitcoin. But the alleged killers turned out to be scammers. Now she faces five years in prison.

It is February 2016 and Kristy Lynn Felkins and her husband have just divorced and are in the midst of a custody battle over their two children together, plus another child from Felkins' first marriage. She is seeking revenge on her former partner, from whom she says she fled. She says he repeatedly physically, mentally and sexually abused her.

Felkins goes looking for an assassin through the Darkweb. She found what she was looking for on the "Besa Mafia" forum. Operators offer a wide range of services in exchange for Bitcoin, from assassinations to kidnappings and murder. She gets in touch with an admin. The American exchanges ideas with him for months. First about purchasing opportunities for Bitcoin, later about the concrete course of murder.

Darkweb

But the site is a scam. This is proven by the testimony of an investigator who looked into the matter. And at first, an uneasy feeling also creeps over Felkins. "I found a lot of posts, including on Reddit, calling hitman sites all scams. Some in particular make fun of this site," she wrote to the administrator in late February. Who replied, "If you don't want to do it online, find a hitman with one of the gangs in your area."

Eventually, Felkins does use the site's "services." In early March, she transfers a total of 12 bitcoin. The equivalent value at the time: just under $5,000. The hitman would shoot the ex-husband on his way to the airport in Durham, North Carolina. "Would it be possible to make this look like a botched robbery?" she writes. Nothing happens, however.

US$4,000 for a sniper

The administrator confirms receipt of the Bitcoin, but continues to make excuses as to why the assassination attempt could not be carried out. Sometimes the target "could not be found," sometimes there were too many witnesses. In late March, the administrator came forward and demanded another $4,000 so a sniper could finish the job. Felkins has already exceeded her debt limit, she says. The administrator suggests she wire the money after the job is done. Felkins agrees, even accepting that the ex-husband's new girlfriend will be hurt. "In the end, I get his pension, our house and possibly a large payout from his life insurance policy," she says.

But again, Felkins is disappointed. Slowly she grows impatient. "Stop wasting my time. Give me my money back and I'll find another solution," she writes. The then 35-year-old demands proof that the hitman is actually in Durham. She tells him to take a picture of a street sign and place his finger on the right side of the picture. The administrator sends the requested photo. "You clearly photoshopped a Google Street View photo with a finger," Felkins complains. The administrator tries a few more times to convince his client otherwise before breaking contact altogether in mid-April.

Bitcoin gone and five years in prison

Four years later, Felkins was arrested in the small town of Fallon in the state of Nevada. Last Thursday, the verdict was handed down: the now 38-year-old faces a five-year prison sentence, followed by three years of probation.

The case shows one thing clearly: the stories of murders for hire in the Darkweb are (thankfully) nothing more than fraud in the vast majority of cases. A British woman lost nearly 25,000 US dollars in this way early this year. She, too, is now under investigation.

In the end, Felkins will have to pay for her vendetta not only with money, but also with her freedom. Moreover, the verdict is unlikely to improve her chances in the custody battle with her ex-husband. By the way, if Felkins had kept the 12 Bitcoin and sold them in the bull market, she would have made $830,000. Enough money to build a new life.

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