A CALIFORNIA man allegedly blew $13,000 in cryptocurrency to hire a hitman to kill his ex-girlfriend after she dumped him.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 24, of Beverley Hills was arrested on May 21 and is facing a murder-for-hire charge, after wiring bitcoin to the 'contract killer' – who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Berkett had struck up a relationship with the woman online late last year before they met up in October in Los Angeles, according to police, but it quickly ended after he became "sexually aggressive".
She tried to end their short romance after the trip, but Berkett continued to contact the young woman.
In April, one of her relatives who was concerned about the 24-year-old's persistence contacted his father to ask him to intervene, prosecutors said.
According to the criminal complaint he wrote back: "Consider this matter closed," but his fixation with his ex-lover continued.
The bitter Burkett then reportedly began to search for murder-for-hire services on the dark web – which turned out to be an FBI sting.
"I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better. So long as she is dead," he allegedly wrote to the group. "I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process."
He supposedly sent over bitcoin payments amounting to $13,000 of the untraceable cryptocurrency over a one-month period.
The hitman scam group then contacted an unnamed media outlet that provided information to the FBI, documenting the discussions and transactions, the New York Post reports.
"The information provided was specific about the identity and location of Victim 1, as well as social media accounts, nicknames, email and a distinctive tattoo of Victim 1," prosecutors said in a statement.
An undercover FBI agent then met with Berkett after contacting him on WhatsApp, according to the affidavit, before discussing the set-up of the murder scene.
Berkett even allegedly requested a photo of the woman's tattoo to provide proof of her death.
The agent asked for an additional $1,000 to carry out the killing, which Berkett transferred via Western Union the following day.
Authorities arrested the Beverly Hills man for the bitcoin murder plot last week.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the murder-for-hire count.
Berkett was due to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.
It follows a recent rise in crypto-crime, that sparked an investigation in Russia over assassins accepting Bitcoin and the like as payment for committing crimes.
Bitcoin can go through tens of thousands of transactions before it ends up in the hands of the hitman themselves, as cryptocurrencies can be laundered through many different e-wallets.
The anonymity that comes with Bitcoin trading means it's a popular way to pay for many illegal activities.
This includes drug transactions as well as paid for murder.
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