Want a hired killer? The site Azerbaijani Eagles will charge $5,000. Slayers Hitmen, $50,000—if you also want torture. But buyer beware: There's almost no known case of a site following through and committing the actual assassination, according to the New York Times. "It's a fantastic opportunity to defraud people because you give them just enough sense of danger," says Emily Wilson, who heads a security firm that targets websites on the so-called dark web. "What are you going to do if they don't go through with it?" Indeed, nearly all hitman-site cases involve people caught for sending the money. One such story was about an Illinois nurse who got 12 years for paying over $10,000 in Bitcoin to have her boyfriend's wife murdered.
One of the more grisly cases involves a Minnesota man arrested for killing his wife after his $6,000 payment to the Besa Mafia site failed to produce a corpse, as Wired reported last year. Yet the sites continue to maintain their efficiency, with one, Darkmamba, saying there's little evidence of their success because they use ricin, a poison from castor beans. But a British hacker who delved into hitman sites found messages saying the owners had no intention of actually killing anyone. One downside of all this coverage? Wilson says it distracts from real dark-web crime, like drug markets and sales of people's personal data. "There is actual crime, but we are too busy talking about some guy who wants to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend," she says. (Read more dark web stories.)