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Fake Hitman Site Used in Alleged Murder-for-Hire Plot

A former GP from Bournemouth allegedly ordered the murder of his pension and wealth advisor through one of the many fake murder-for-hire sites on the darknet, Winchester Crown Court heard at a recent hearing. The retired GP had allegedly used one of the many fake hidden services created by the scammer behind the now-defunct Besa Mafia after his financial advisor had provided financial services that resulted the loss of nearly $400,000.

David Crichton, the retired GP, had allegedly reached out to the owner of the (now-defunct) hidden service called Crimebay by the Chechen Mob. The site, like the majority of the sites routinely deployed by the same fraudster, offered several services easily recognizable as scams such as the murder of “an ex-wife, an ex-husband, or business partner” for roughly $5,000. The owner of these sites, known by researchers as “Yura,” also advertises more costly services for individuals with the desire to end the life of anyone the owner considers “non-average.” One package offered by the scammer—before the site’s takedown—advertised the murder of “small celebrities” for $30,000.

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Prior to the alleged solicitation of murder, Crichton had reached out to a financial advisor at the Brown Shipley bank named Andrew Boldon. Crichton needed assistance investing his 2.3 million dollar pension. Prosecutor Simon Jones told the court that Boldon’s advice was financially sound. However, “[he] delayed some aspects of his advice, he missed certain deadlines and incurred a tax penalty,” the prosecutor said. Crichton, driven by self-described “desperation,” had allegedly found Crimebay on the darknet and all but pulled the trigger on the job. He had prepared the fee needed for the contract killing of a “normal person,” the prosecutor explained to the court.

On February 26, 2017, Crichton attempted to solicit the murder of his financial advisor, the court heard. In an email conversation, a source with intimate knowledge of the situation provided this author with the username of a Reddit account owned and operated by Crichton. Although he asked about the legitimacy of “Crimebay” and “Besa,” he eventually learned that the sites were scams and that the hundreds of shilled responses came from the site’s owner. He later, of course, wrote, “I was arrested for going on the Crimebay website and am awaiting trial.” The April 20, 2018 post continued, “I didn’t enter any order or pay any money but their Bulgarian computer was given to the UK police […] and they have arrested 3 of us (out of 1000), so keep off all hitman websites.” He revealed that he had discovered the site through a promotional WordPress article.

In addition to the solicitation of murder charge, Crichton faces three counts of sending malicious communications. He admitted accessing the site while drunk and suicidal but denied committing any crimes.

“The defendant’s intention could not be clearer. The steps he took were very clearly an attempt to solicit, ask for, request, seek a murder,” the prosecutor told the court, solidifying his stance on Crichton’s alleged guilt.

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