Cyber Crime

Man sought dark web hitman to murder child victim of sexual abuse

The dark web hitman for hire website turned out to be a scam.

 

John Michael Musbach of Haddonfield, Camden Country, New Jersey, the key suspect in several child-sexual abuse offenses, was arrested by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office (ACPO). 

According to the U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, the 31-year-old Musbach paid $20,000 in Bitcoin for hiring a hitman to murder his child victim. He is charged for one count of murder-for-hire by the authorities. 

Reportedly, Musbach lived in Atlantic County when an investigation against him was initiated in 2015. He was suspected of trading sexually explicit child abuse videos and photographs, which featured a 13-year old boy. 

In March 2016, the ACPO arrested Musbach for the first time after searching his residence in Galloway, New Jersey. It is worth noting that the victim’s parents discovered that he was interacting with their son through an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) website.

Both exchanged sexually explicit videos and images. Upon searching his residence, officers seized one cell phone and his laptop. In 2017, the accused pleaded guilty to intentionally putting a child’s welfare in danger through forceful sexual misconduct. At the time, Musbach received a two-year suspended sentence, including lifetime supervision.



 

Five weeks later, authorities learned about Musbach seeking to hire a hitman or a gun on the Dark Web. Authorities were tipped about his alleged communication with a murder-for-hire website operating on the Dark Web.

He sought services of a “professional hitman,” and offered to pay in Bitcoin. An informer contacted the St. Paul, Minnesota-based Homeland Security Investigations agents and alerted them about Musbach’s intention of hiring a hitman. 

Further probe revealed that the Dark Web website offered hitmen services to perform contract-based acts of violence or killings on the client’s behalf. The accused used the alias Agentisai to reach out to the website on May 7, 2016 and asked for obtaining ammunition and a handgun.



 

The next day, according to chat transcript seen by Hackread.com in court documents [PDF], Musbach wrote that instead of ordering a gun, he would like to place a “hit order.” He further wrote that the target would be a minor.

“However, the target would be 14. Is that an acceptable age or too young? I can budget up to $20k for the order,” Musbach wrote.

The website responded by accepting the orders and stated that they would charge $18,500 for their services.

“Yes, 14 years old is acceptable. We have gang members to do the hit; however, the price is about $18,500.”

 

The accused transferred the amount to the murder-for-hire services in two deposits of $10,000, citing that he could not transfer more than $10,000 in one attempt. He then messaged the site’s admin asking him when they will do their job. 

The site admin informed Musbach that the assigned hitman was arrested, and a new hitman was hired who demanded $5,000 more. Musbach refused and asked for refunding his $20,000. At that point, the admin revealed that the site didn’t offer any such services, and it was a scam. They even threatened to inform the law enforcement if Musbach pressed for a refund.

By that time, the agents had already verified Musbach’s identity as he used the same screen name to contact the website and to purchase Bitcoins to pay for the service.

Chat between Musbach and the website offering crime services is available below:

Musbach is not only charged with conspiring to endanger a child’s life but also using interstate commerce services for hiring a hitman, for which he may receive a fine of $250,000 or twice the losses incurred to the victim, and a maximum of 10 years in jail.

The accused appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams via videoconference.

 

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