An Italian man has been arrested on suspicion of paying a hitman to assassinate his former partner.
According to a Europol alert on Wednesday, the suspect dove into the darkest corners of the internet to find a hitman and eventually located a website claiming to offer these services on the dark web.
It is necessary to use the Tor network to access the deep web -- an underlayer that is not indexed by typical search engines -- and a sector of this area, known as the dark web, is where illegal activities and purchases take place.
After contact was made, someone apparently happy to perform the task of assassinating his ex-girlfriend was paid roughly €10,000 in Bitcoin (BTC).
However, Europol and the Italian Postal and Communication Police apparently caught wind of the plan and an "urgent, complex crypto-analysis" was performed.
At the same time Europol was attempting to unmask the suspect and trace the BTC transfer, Italian law enforcement reached out to the cryptocurrency exchange in which the suspect's virtual currency was originally purchased. The exchange, which has not been named, provided the police with further information.
"The timely investigation prevented any harm to be perpetrated against the potential victim," Europol says.
The European agency, as well as various law enforcement groups, use a range of tools to monitor and track cryptocurrency transactions suspected of being linked to criminal activities.
Interpol, for example, uses and was involved in the development of GraphSense, a blockchain-based analytics tool for cryptocurrency address and transfer searches. The organization is currently working on a new tool, dubbed "Darkweb Monitor," which will focus on cryptocurrency intelligence gathering for law enforcement purposes.
In related news this week, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced a jail term of 12 years, without parole, for a Missouri resident who tried to buy dangerous chemicals online. The "highly toxic" compound, purchased through what appeared to be a dark web vendor, was paid for in BTC and delivery details were addressed to a minor.
A police sting revealed the man may have bought the chemical due to a breakup, with documents found in the home revealing "a desire for the person who caused the heartache to die," according to prosecutors.
Previous and related coverage
- The dark web won't hide you anymore, police warn crooks
- DeepDotWeb dark web admin pleads guilty to gun, drug purchase kickbacks
- Cops are the only ones being lawful on the dark web, AFP declares
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