A man from Beverly Hills has been charged in court following his arrest on accusations of procuring murder-for-hire services on the dark web.
Scott Berkett, the 24-year-old defendant, was apprehended on charges involving accusations that he spent $13,000 in crypto payments to hire a hitman that he expected would kill a woman he dated.
According to the authorities, the man is alleged to have sent Bitcoin as part of his commitment to facilitate the murder, and then fell into a law enforcement trap when he transferred an additional $1,000 to an undercover agent.
Official documents intimate that Berkett first met the woman he had allegedly planned to kill in late 2020. The pair met online after which the victim would travel in October to meet the defendant.
The court learnt that the woman had reportedly made several attempts to end their relationship on grounds that the defendant had shown signs of being “sexually aggressive”. Thereafter, in April 2020, following communication by one of the victim’s family members to Berkett’s father, the defendant is said to have informed the woman that the matter “was closed”.
However, according to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Berkett went ahead to contact a group on a dark web platform advertising for hitman services. The supposed murder-for-hire entity, which was dismissed by law enforcement as one of the many darknet scams, got in touch with a media outlet.
The media outlet is said to have served federal agents with critical information that would open the case against Berkett. Apart from providing the evidence of communication from the defendant, they went ahead to reveal the documentation of payments made by the suspect in exchange for hitman services.
The authorities discovered that Berkett used the screenname “Ula77” to make Bitcoin payments with an understanding that an unknown party would kill the woman. The suspect had shared all sufficient information – including the target victim’s identity, location, social media accounts, and a distinctive tattoo – to ensure that the supposed hitman met their mark.
The authorities learnt that the defendant made the order for the kill on April 28 by informing the dark web group of his wishes. Berkett asked the would-be killers of his one-time girlfriend that they make the hit “look like an accident”. He voiced his preference for a staged robbery gone wrong that would obscure the real motive of the attack.
In addition, the defendant ordered the dark web group to ensure that they had retrieved the target victim’s phone for the purpose of its complete destruction. Official reports indicate that the suspect made Bitcoin payments to the hitmen between April 5 and May 5.
The FBI investigation involved an undercover agent who posed as a killer-for-hire in contacting the defendant to seek confirmation about the victim’s identity. It turns out that Berkett had asked for a proof-of-death picture that would confirm that the woman had been effectively eliminated.
The case is still ongoing, and Berkett could face a 10-year prison sentence if convicted by the court.
Brief about the Dark Web Murder-for-Hire Business
On a number of dark web platforms in existence, users can commission murders for prices ranging from as low as $5,000 to as much as $50,000.
Interestingly, according to a host of law enforcement reports, it turns out that almost all of these sites are out to scam unsuspecting murder-for-hire service shoppers. This reality exists even in context of the fact that such websites have become actual catch points for people looking to kill victims – a long list of people have ended up in jail after making actual payments to these darknet marketplaces.