U.S. Doctor Pleads Guilty in Hitman-for-Hire Plot justice.gov

The U.S. Department of Justice:

James Wan, M.D., has pleaded guilty to paying a hitman he found on the dark web to murder his girlfriend.


After learning about the threat to the victim’s life, FBI agents notified the victim, provided her protection, and questioned Wan. Wan admitted that he had placed the order, made the payments, and checked the status of the order daily on the dark web marketplace. Records from Wan’s cellular telephone and his Bitcoin wallet corroborated Wan’s confession. After speaking with FBI agents, Wan canceled the order on the dark web marketplace.

The FBI loves to talk about what it calls the “going dark” problem of private and secure technologies preventing the ability for law enforcement to do its job. But here we have yet another case where the use of nominal privacy protections like Tor and cryptocurrency were insufficient to prevent the FBI from learning about a crime in progress. According to the judge’s final report (PDF), that is because the FBI was tipped off by a news organization that spotted someone with the user name “jwan6725241” who had posted their order on a hitman-for-hire site. Wan then demonstrated unlocking that same account using facial recognition on his phone when questioned by the FBI.

People can use as many layers of secure communication and payment services as they might like, but they are often dumb, too. Evil and cold, to be sure but also very, very dumb.