A Beverly Hills, California, man is accused of hiring a hitman to kill a woman he briefly dated and who tried to break off the relationship.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 24, was charged by federal prosecutors of sending thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to arrange a murder, and wired another $1,000 to a “hitman,” who was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Berkett reportedly met “Victim 1” online last year, who flew to Los Angeles to meet Berkett in late October, according to federal prosecutors.
Victim 1, described Berkett’s behavior as “sexually aggressive,” and she tried on several occasions to break off the relationship following the October trip, prosecutors noted.
One of Victim 1's family members learned Berkett continued to contact her, and reportedly contacted Berkett’s father by phone. Berkett reportedly responded saying he “consider this matter closed,” on April 20, according to prosecutors.
That is when Berkett allegedly contacted a group on the dark web that advertised murder-for-hire services.
While law enforcement claims this dark web group was a scam, the group contacted a media outlet, which provided information to the FBI, including messages from Berkett, using a screen name of “Ula77,” and documentation of payments by Berkett, according to prosecutors.
The media outlet reportedly provided “transaction information from an unnamed source on the dark web that showed that Bitcoin payments were made with an understanding that an unknown individual would murder Victim 1,” according to investigators.
“The information provided was specific about the identity and location of Victim 1, as well as social media accounts, nicknames, email, and a distinctive tattoo of Victim 1," court records read.
Berkett allegedly submitted his order for the hit on April 28, writing to the dark web group: “I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better. So long as she is dead. I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process.”
Berkett reportedly made Bitcoin payments that totaled $13,000 between April 5 and May 5, according to the information sent to the FBI.
An undercover FBI agent, posing as a hitman, reportedly made contact with Berkett on May 19 and sent a photo of Victim 1, which Berkett confirmed was the intended victim.
Berkett reportedly demanded a proof-of-death photo that would show the corpse and Victim 1’s distinctive tattoo. Berkett reportedly made the final $1,000 payment via Western Union May 20.
He was charged with murder-for-hire. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
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