At some point in our lives, most of us have done something that upset someone.
This person might politely ask you not to do it again, or they might decide that life is too short and just give up.
If you’re lucky, they won’t pay a hitman thousands of pounds to kill you.
Alexis was 19 years old when she received a call from the police in her hometown in the US in 2018.
The officer told him to come to the station immediately for a conversation that would change his life forever.
“They asked me if I fucked anyone and I said, ‘No, I don’t think so’…Then they said someone paid a couple of thousand dollars to hit me.”
Alexis, whose last name we’re withholding to protect her identity, understandably wondered why anyone would want her killed, and on top of that, who did she know who had access to the hitman?
However, it turns out that no one had to make an effort to get in touch with the mafia or violent street gangs.
Finding the killer seemed to be much easier.
This man simply turned on his laptop and accessed a dangerous online space where criminals can remain anonymous because they operate outside the law.
It’s called the “dark web”.
The hidden underbelly of the Internet allows people to buy and sell drugs and weapons, watch illegal pornography, and even hire hackers to attack individuals or businesses.
There is also an alarming number of apparent kill-for-pay sites offering hitman services in exchange for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
An anonymous dark web user went to a website called Camorra Hitman and made a $5,770 (about £4,800) bitcoin transaction to kidnap and kill Alexis.
Camorra Hitman is no longer active, but dozens of sites offering the same services still operate on the dark web.
“Contract Murder from $15,000”
Sky News contacted several of these websites to see if they would offer interviews to discuss their activities.
None of the sites responded.
Several sites have posted images of people who appear to have been killed as a result of stabbings or traffic accidents. It is not clear if the photos are real or actually related to the services the websites offer.
One site, which we chose not to name, claims to offer “contract killings” from $15,000 (£12,600) and “beatings” from $2,000 (£1,600).
Darknet users provide personal information about people they want to kill
Chris Monteiro is a British hacker and dark web vigilante who has access to transactions between buyers and sellers on these sites.
It then passes the information on to law enforcement in the UK and abroad.
In fact, it was Mr. Monteiro who informed the US police about the attack on Alexis.
“Over the years, I have come across thousands of legitimate murder conspiracies,” he said.
“People go to these sites and provide detailed information about the person they want to kill, such as where they work, where they live, and how much they are willing to pay.”
“I had a knife with me”
However, over the years, Mr. Monteiro has found that the websites he hacked are not what they seem.
The ones he contacted were not real – and every investigation of “murder for hire” websites found them to be fake.
And luckily for Alexis, including the one used by her would-be attacker.
But whether the site was real or not, there was always someone who used it with the intention of committing suicide.
“At first I was a little scared… I was wearing pepper spray. I had a knife with me. I had a wooden board in my car in case I was attacked. So life was very different.”
Learn more about the dark web:
In the northeast and into Surrey, real estate was raided by a global network of darknet drug dealers.
Dark web crackdown on opioid dealers leads to 179 arrests worldwide
Law enforcement ‘not doing enough’
The police turned over the investigation to the FBI, which closed his case in 2019 and informed him that “U.S. Attorney’s Office refused to prosecute.”
Whoever tried to kill Alexis is still on the loose.
Alexis and Mr. Monteiro accuse law enforcement of doing little to address the problem with these sites.
Asked what they are doing to address the issue, the UK’s National Crime Agency told the Sky News Daily podcast in a statement: “The National Crime Agency and partners around the world are working closely to remove crime scenes and also frequently identify and bring people to justice. committing serious and organized crimes on the dark web, from posting obscene images of children to supplying Class A drugs.”
Regardless of the legitimacy of “kill for hire” websites, this does not mean that dangerous people do not pay them money with the intent to kill people.
As for her own murder-for-hire story, Alexis says she’s living her own life now.
“I’m trying to really grow as a person… now it’s better to move on and not dwell on it and drag myself down.”
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