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Would-be murderer scammed out of assassin’s bitcoin fee

When we think of the victims of online scams, we tend to frame them as innocent. Not in this case, however, as the victim is anything but.

user icon David Hollingworth
Mon, 06 Feb 2023
Would-be murderer scammed out of assassin’s bitcoin fee
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John Michael Musbach of New Jersey in the US pleaded guilty last week to hiring a hitman to murder a 14-year-old child — a child that he himself was alleged to have supplied sexually illicit material and who was to appear as a witness against him in court.

Which is why Musbach turned to the dark web, where he found what he thought was an assassin for hire who would kill the child before they could appear in court.

The only problem was that the site was a scam.


Musbach was in contact with the site, which purported to offer “contract killings or other acts of violence” between 7 and 20 May 2016, according to the New Jersey District Attorney’s Office. After making contact with a site administrator, Musbach at first asked if the target was too young, but when the admin said killing a 14-year-old was not going to be a problem, Musbach paid $20,000 in bitcoin for the service.

But Musbach was anxious for the murder to happen as soon as possible and contacted the site admin again, asking when it was actually going to happen. At this stage, the price went up by $5,000, which the admin said was needed to confirm the hit. Musbach baulked, however, though whether it was a case of cold feet or simply not having the money we do not know. He tried to cancel the hit and even asked for a refund.

Which was when the site admin admitted the site was a scam the entire time. The admin then threatened to report Musbach to law enforcement, proving there really is no honour between thieves.

Crypto scams are rife across both the dark web and clear net and we always caution people about anything that looks too good to be true … But it’s hard to feel sorry for this scamming victim.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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