How arrests for attempting to obtain a hitman and a nuclear bomb demonstrate that the dark web is not always anonymous.

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Paying with cryptocurrency does not guarantee your safety.

Most of the criticisms levelled at cryptocurrencies is that its difficult-to-trace existence renders it the chosen currency of criminals. However, engaging in illicit activity on the dark web and accepting bitcoin as payment does not protect you from being captured, as two people recently learned.

As per a Europol alert, an Italian man has been arrested on suspicion of hiring a hitman on the dark web. The assassin was contacted through a site specializing in murder-for-hire services and paid around 10,000 Euros (~$11,870) to kill the suspect’s ex-girlfriend.

Europol uncovered the plot while collaborating with the Italian Postal and Communication Police, and the agency “carried out an urgent, complicated crypto-analysis” that allowed it to track and locate the crypto exchange from which the suspect purchased his Bitcoin. The unidentified Italian crypto service provider provided officials with more intelligence on the suspect, which led to his capture.

ZDNet notes that law enforcement groups are creating new, more advanced tools for tracking and tracing cryptocurrency movements. Interpol is developing Darkweb Monitor, which can gather criminal activity on the dark web, including cryptocurrency addresses. It also helped develop a blockchain-based analytics tool called GraphSense, which allows investigators to search cryptocurrency addresses, tags, and transactions.

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In the US, the perpetrator of another attempted murder that utilized the dark web and Bitcoin has been jailed. The DoJ announced that 46-year-old Columbia, Missouri, resident Jason William Siesser was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole.

Siesser charged $150 in BTC for about 30 millilitres of Dimethylmercury, a chemical agent capable of killing up to 300 individuals. He intended to use it to murder his ex—a few drops on the skin can be fatal—but failed to obtain some of the drug on two attempts and was apprehended in an undercover FBI activity.

“Siesser had been the custodial guardian of two minors and had used various combinations of the first, middle and last names of one of them on the orders for the toxic substance,” writes the New York Times. “The youth said Mr. Siesser had told him that he wanted to be an assassin and kill those who had wronged him in the past, including Mr. Siesser’s ex-wife and the woman who broke off her relationship with Mr. Siesser after three dates, according to the affidavit.”

Image credits: Lubo Ivanko, Motortion Films

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