A mystery media organization trawling the dark web has helped the FBI thwart another crime—a murder-for-hire plot by a jilted Beverly Hills stalker, federal authorities said Friday.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 24, was arrested on charges that he tried to get a hitman to rub out a woman he met on a Facebook anime fan page.
“I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better,” Berkett messaged a would-be assassin last month, according to a criminal complaint. “So long as she is dead. I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process.”
In a follow-up message, he allegedly wrote, “I would like proof of her death sent to me. She has a distinctive tattoo on one of her forearms that I know the image of, so a photo of her corpse and a photo of her tattoo for identification would work.”
The feds acknowledged in court papers that they could not verify the messages provided by the journalists. But they said they were able to tie Berkett to the Coinbase wallet used to send the hired gun $14,000 in Bitcoin.
To bolster their case they devised a sting operation in which an undercover agent posing as the hitman contacted Berkett on Whatsapp and sent him a photo of the target in a store.
They also spoke by phone, while the FBI was recording, and Berkett confirmed the details of the assignment, the complaint alleges. Berkett agreed to wire another $1,000 and was videotaped at the Western Union.
According to the complaint, Berkett met his target virtually last year while they were co-administrators of a fan page for the show RWBY. In October, she flew to Los Angeles to meet him in person and during the trip “had sex with Berkett but felt pressured to do so,” the complaint said.
“Berkett was sexually aggressive towards [her].”
After the trip, she tried to break up with him, “but he refused to accept the break-up. Berkett became very possessive and began constantly messaging [her] on multiple social media and communications platforms. When [she] did not respond to a message on one platform, Berkett would find another way to message her,” the feds wrote in the complaint.
Eventually, the woman’s father contacted Berkett and threatened to call police if he did not leave his daughter alone. Soon after, prosecutors say, he began his hunt for a killer.
Berkett, an engineer, could not be reached for comment. A man who returned a call to the family denied knowing him.
The case is only the most recent example of a plot being thwarted by the unnamed media outlet.
Last month, Dr. Ronald Ilg, a Spokane neonatologist, was charged with a vengeful plan to hire hitmen off the dark web to maim a former employee and abduct and extort his estranged wife. And in February, the feds charged Kelly Harper, a mom from Columbus, Wisconsin, with trying to get someone to kill an unidentified man.
In court papers filed in Tennessee, prosecutors said the BBC had tipped them off to another murder-for-hire scheme involving Bitcoin. The Daily Beast asked the BBC if it was the source in the previous stories but a spokesperson declined comment.