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Georgia Doctor sentenced in dark web murder-for-hire plot

James Wan has been sentenced for paying a hitman he found on the dark web to murder his girlfriend.

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“This defendant believed he could mask his homicidal intentions by using electronic means,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “By using the dark web to conceal his search for someone to kill his girlfriend, Wan expected to evade detection, even going as far as using crypto currency to pay for the crime.  While criminals regularly search for new ways to harm their victims, our law enforcement partners constantly adapt their methods to identify them and bring them to justice.”

“Despite his cowardly concealment on the dark web, Wan’s cold hearted murderous plot was averted due to the exceptional work of our team. He will now face the full consequences of the criminal justice system,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This sentencing shows that the FBI will not tolerate heinous acts of violence and will go to great lengths to protect our citizens.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: On April 18, 2022, while in the Northern District of Georgia, Wan accessed a dark web marketplace from his cellular telephone and submitted an order to have a hitman murder his girlfriend. The order included the victim’s name, address, Facebook account, license plate, and car description. In his request, Wan stated: “Can take wallet phone and car. Shoot and go. Or take car.” Wan then electronically transferred a 50 percent downpayment of approximately $8,000 worth of Bitcoin to the dark web marketplace.

Two days later, Wan messaged the marketplace’s administrator, stating that the transferred Bitcoin had not shown up in his escrow account on the site. The next day, the marketplace administrator asked Wan for the Bitcoin address to which Wan had sent the payment. In response, Wan identified the Bitcoin wallet address and provided a screenshot of the transaction. When the administrator said that the address Wan provided was not in their system, Wan replied, “I guess I lost $8k. I’m sending $8k to escrow now.” Wan then electronically transferred an additional Bitcoin payment worth approximately $8,000 to the marketplace. The administrator confirmed the new address was correct and that the Bitcoin had arrived in the escrow account. The administrator stated that they were proceeding with Wan’s order for a hit and asked whether Wan wanted it done as an “accident or normal shooting.” Wan responded, “accident is better.”

About a week later, on April 29, 2022, Wan electronically transferred another payment of approximately $8,000 worth of Bitcoin to the dark web marketplace to ensure his escrow account contained the total required to complete the order.  Shortly thereafter, Wan posted the following in a forum on the dark web marketplace: “How soon should work be done?  I have submitted an order and curious how quickly it should be carried out?  Is there a way I can find out any progress?  If there is anyone in my location?”

On May 10, 2022, after the value of Bitcoin dropped, Wan electronically transferred another payment of approximately $1,200 worth of Bitcoin to the marketplace to ensure his escrow account still contained the total required to complete the order.

After learning about the threat to the victim’s life, FBI special agents notified the victim, provided her protection, and questioned Wan. Wan admitted that he had placed the order for the murder, made the payments, and checked the status of the order daily on the dark web marketplace. Records from Wan’s cellular telephone and his Bitcoin wallet corroborated Wan’s confession. After speaking with FBI special agents, Wan canceled the order on the dark web marketplace.

James Wan, 54, of Duluth, Georgia, has been sentenced to seven years, three months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.  Wan was convicted on these charges on October 17, 2023, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret R. Hobson is prosecuting the case.

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