What is being done about dark web hit-and-run websites and how dangerous are they? | world news

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At some point in our lives, most of us have done something to upset someone.

This person may have responded by politely asking you not to do it again, or they may have decided life is too short and just let it go.

If you’re lucky, you won’t pay a killer thousands of pounds to kill you.

Alexis was 19 when she received a call from police in her hometown in the United States in 2018.

The officer told her to come to the police station immediately to have a conversation that would change her life forever.

“They asked if I’d ripped anyone off and I said ‘no, I don’t think so’ … then they said someone paid a couple grand to smack me.”

Alexis, whose last name we’re not providing 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 a killer?

It turns out, however, that whoever it was didn’t have to bother with mafia connections or violent street gangs.

Apparently finding a killer was a lot easier.

This individual had simply booted up their laptop and accessed a dangerous online space where criminals can remain anonymous while operating outside the law.

It is known as the “dark web”.

The hidden underbelly of the internet allows people to buy and sell drugs and guns, view illegal pornography, and even hire hackers to target individuals or businesses.

There’s also a worrying amount of blatant “murder-for-hire” sites offering Hitman services in exchange for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

Picture:
One website claims to have “thousands of happy customers”.

An anonymous dark web user had logged on to a website called Camorra Hitman and made a $5,770 (around £4,800) bitcoin transaction in order to have Alexis kidnapped and murdered.

Camorra Hitman is no longer running, but dozens of websites claiming to offer the same services are still active on the dark web.

“Assassination from $15,000”

Sky News contacted several of these sites to see if they would suggest someone for an interview to discuss their operations.

None of the websites responded.

The order form from one of the sites - which asks customers for the name and address of the "target" asks;
Picture:
The order form from one of the pages – asking customers for the name and address of the “destination”.

Some of the pages show pictures of people who appear to have been killed in knife attacks or traffic accidents. It’s not clear if the photos are real or really linked to the services the sites claim to offer.

One website, which we won’t name, claims to offer ‘assassination’ from $15,000 (£12,600) and ‘beating’ from $2,000 (£1,600).

Dark web users provide personal information of people they want to kill

Chris Monteiro is a UK-based dark web hacker and vigilante who gains access to transactions between buyers and sellers on these sites.

He then passes the information on to law enforcement agencies in the UK and abroad.

In fact, it was Mr. Monteiro who informed the police in the United States of the Alexis attack.

“Over several years, I have encountered thousands of legitimate assassination plots,” he said.

“People go to these sites and provide details about the person they want to kill, like where they work, where they live, and how much they’re willing to pay.”

Chris Monteiro, pictured, says he has uncovered thousands of legitimate assassination plots on the dark web
Picture:
Chris Monteiro says he uncovered thousands of legitimate assassination plots on the dark web

“I had a knife with me”

However, over the years, Mr. Monteiro discovered that the websites he had hacked into were not what they appeared to be.

The ones he accessed weren’t real — and all investigations into murder-for-rent websites have revealed them to be fake.

And luckily for Alexis, that includes the one used by her would-be abuser.

But whether the site was legit or not, there was still someone out there who had used it with the intention of ending their lives.

“I was a little scared at first… I had pepper spray with me. I had a knife with me. I had a wooden board in my car in case someone attacked me. So life was very different.”

Read more about the dark web:
Searched global dark web drug network in the North East and Surrey
The crackdown on opioid traffickers on the dark web triggers 179 arrests worldwide

Picture:
One of the sites claims to offer “services for hiring killers around the world.”

Law Enforcement Agencies ‘Not Doing Enough’

Police referred the investigation to the FBI, which closed her case in 2019, telling her that “the United States Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute.”

Whoever tried to have Alexis killed is still alive today.

Both Alexis and Mr. Monteiro blame law enforcement for doing little to resolve the issue surrounding these sites.

When asked what they are doing to tackle the problem, Britain’s National Crime Agency told the Sky News Daily podcast in a statement: “The NCA and its partners around the world are working closely to take down criminal websites and frequently Identify and hold individuals accountable for committing serious and organized crime on the Dark Web – from sharing indecent pictures of children to supplying Class A drugs.

Regardless of the legitimacy of murder-for-hire websites, this does not mean that dangerous people are not paying them money with the intention of getting people killed.

When it comes to her own murder story, Alexis says she moves on with her life now.

“I’m trying to really grow as a person … at this point it’s better to just move on, not think about it and pull myself down.”

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