Disturbing revelations have come out of a dark web hire-a-hitman site
Drugs, hacking services, stolen financial and personal information and fraud-related services are the staple products of the darknet markets. But there has always been websites offering far more sinister wares – poisons, human beings and hitmen. Such sites are overwhelmingly amateurish, poorly worded fakes, designed to separate the gullible from their Bitcoin.
Earlier this year, Besa Mafia burst on to the dark web with a slick and user-friendly site. They claimed to be Albanian organised crime figures, with employees all over the world. Despite laughable “testimonials” and a ridiculous writing style, the owner of the site managed to convince many that they were real.
Besa embarked on a marketing spree on the clearweb, with apparently satisfied customers providing ‘personal stories’ of successful hits. Little by little, belief that they were genuine began to gain traction. Redditors would claim the others were fake, but Besa was the real deal. Believers would stubbornly insist they knew someone who knew someone who hired a contract killer and paid them in Bitcoin.
Dark web mythbuster and Moderator of /r/deepweb, Deku-Shrub was tiring of the misinformation and rumour spreading by Besa shills. He responded to every post that claimed the services offered by the website were real with a rebuttal and even interviewed the site owners, then ridiculed them on his blog, Pirate London.
Rational people knew this site was a scam, just like all the others. Probably some geeky kid with too much time on his hands and too many hours spent on Playstation having a laugh.
Then something happened.
From dark web to the streets
On 10 April, Deku-Shrub emailed a private crypto group with a link to a video he’d received that day. The amateur video showed a car being torched, with a chilling touch. The arsonist held up a piece of paper in front of the burning car that said gang member for besa mafia on deep web – dedication to pirate London 10 April 2016.
Hidden Answers, and Fox and Pinochet in particular, had also regularly ridiculed any claims that the Besa site was legitimate. They nevertheless ran paid ads for Besa Mafia on their site. ‘Anyone is allowed to put an ad up on the site, as long as they pay for it,’ an admin said.
It looked like whoever owned Besa Mafia was getting a bit pissed off with sceptical bloggers and site admins and was organising the torching of random cars in their honour.
On 25 April, someone claimed to have hacked Besa Mafia’s website and the results dumped to a pastebin. It’s not completely verifiable that the files have genuinely come from Besa Mafia, but if it is a con, it is a very elaborate one. So I’m proceeding on the assumption that it’s genuine.
One file contained all of the emails sent to and from email@example.com. Another contained details of “orders” and a third details of alleged proposed “targets”. According to the pastebin, admin’s password to the site was ‘fucked’.
‘The hack was carried out by a Hidden Answers user,’ a HA mod said in response to an email. ‘No admins were involved.’
It makes for some fascinating, sometimes funny, often sad, and at times troubling reading. The TL;DR is:
- The site was a complete scam
- People paid real Bitcoin hoping for real hits to be carried out
The scam was carried out in a way that would make a Nigerian prince proud. Anyone who provided Bitcoin was strung along for as long as BesaAdmin could manage, upsold on services and fleeced of increasing amounts of money.
One of the worst hit was the lady who wanted a hit carried out on a woman who “tore my family apart by sleeping with my husband (who then left me) and is stealing clients from my business”, and wanted it to look like an accident. Over two months, she transferred an initial 15 bitcoin, then another 10, then another 4 bitcoin (the transactions are visible on the blockchain), as BesaAdmin dished up excuses for the failure of the murder to take place. Besa was still working on her at the time of the hack. They had relieved her of approximately $13,000.
Others lost varying amounts before twigging that they had been conned. One fellow in India, Hero, who wanted the person who is the “reason my sis died” killed was a little cautious. The last three hitmen he tried to hire ran off with the money he paid up front:
I understand your concern but you also need to understand my point as well. As already said I have already wasted my hard earned money 3 Times as people fooled me as they said they will completed job but after taking the money they ran away.
He had tried to hire two hitmen from hiredkiller.wordpress.com and one from LinkedIn. All of them emerged untrustworthy, so it he was a little more reticent with Besa. Poor old “Hero” was scammed again. He handed over money and even provided his phone number, which was kept in the logs.
Another user claimed to have deposited $45,000 of bitcoin to the site to assassinate an African dictator, but he seemed to be trying to scam the scammers.
The thousands of mails are full of people clinging to the belief that their order will be fulfilled, or confident they will receive their money back guarantee. To his credit, BesaAdmin is ingenious in the excuses he comes up with and is prolific in his responses to customers.
Adding insult to injury
“We don’t usually ask this”, wrote BesaAdmin to every person who seemed serious about carrying out a hit, “because we don’t care why you want a hit, but are you the target’s [husband/wife/jilted lover]?”
Sadly for the hapless would-be killers, once BesaAdmin felt they had drained as much Bitcoin as they could get from them (or if they placed an order without paying), they passed on the details to law enforcement, using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Most of the email exchanges contain enough detail to identify both victim and the person who wants them gone.
In what appears to be an exchange with a law enforcement agency, BesaAdmin provides details of a Texan who had contacted the site with a request to kill his wife.
“We receive orders to kill people from all over the world,” BesaAdmin explained, “however our site is fake and we don’t have any hitmen. We forward the orders to police departments where the targets are located… We are a team of computer programmers living in Europe, and we made this website as a honeypot for criminals, to fight crime and criminals.”
But somewhat bizarrely, BesaAdmin sent another message to the same law enforcement email address:
I am a former member of Besa, and ex-member of their cyber team.
I don’t work with them any more, but I still have access to their system from a backdoor, the other cyber team members miht find it and remove it soon.
Please notice that Besa is doing real killing for hire, but they are also working with law enforcement to keep it looking like it is fake with the purpose to avoid the site being tracked down.
Their strategy is to do real murders for customer who pay, while giving in customer information who don’t send payment to law enforcement, to claim they are fake and that they give all information in.
Hitmen can also sign up, those who send deposit of 1 BTC get real orders, while those who sign up and don’t send deposit are given to law enforcement.
They are keeping in touch with several police departments and law enforcements, from several countries, I am sending out this message to all known accounts on Besa Mafia to be of law enforcement
Please be aware that only information from customer who do not pay are given to police.
Customers who pay have their orders completed, with 80% going to hitman and 20% to besa mafia marketplace
They claim they work with law enforcement and that they are fake, but they advice customers not to give their real info and not to meet hitman.
They only give out the stupiest customers to law enforcement, those who are stupid to provide lots of info and who don’t pay, this way they mentain the look of fake service that works with law enforcement and this way they don’t get stut down
Hope this message gets to be read by all law enforcements who have accounts on this site before my access gets removed.
I moved out from them and am on a runaway from them, if Besa Mafia finds me they will kill me
I’m frankly at a loss on this one. There seems no point for that email to be written.
An army of shills
The emails also revealed how Besa got so many people to shill for them on Reddit, 4Chan, Quora and anywhere else they might be noticed. A Google search on Besa Mafia brings up pages of glowing testimonials.
Like any good dark web service, Besa offered incentives to bring in potential customers. If someone came to the site using a particular referral link, Besa would pay the referrer 10% of any money paid for hits. Not surprisingly, no such money was ever paid out.
In addition, if anyone wanted to sign on as a hitman, they needed to pay 1 bitcoin into the Besa account to prove they aren’t “kids playing a joke”. But they could earn credits instead by touting Besa and providing stories of their personal experiences in ordering successful hits.
If you think the torchings looked real, that’s because they very probably were.
Besa has no shortage of people applying for freelance work. However, before any potential hitman can be allocated a killing or beating, BesaAdmin tells them they have to perform a test. The test was to torch a car, holding a note as specified.
As it turns out, only one potential hitter was up for it. Thcjohn posted proof of the Pirate London torching, which was carried out in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley. In what appears to be the only payment out of Besa Mafia, he was paid $300 for his efforts and asked to carry out another one.
Thcjohn duly torched another car in honour of Fox and Pinochet, but BesaAdmin deemed the car “too cheap”. He had to do another one with a more modern car, which, eager beaver that he was, he did.
Thcjohn is still waiting for payment for the second and third torchings. Thcjohn probably had no idea who the names on the pages were, or what they meant.
So do they want to hurt people or not?
I’m going with “not”. They are scammers and crooks for sure, but they don’t seem to want to cause physical harm to anyone. BesaAdmin was insistent nobody be hurt during the torchings.
Someone calling themselves Informer offered dox of several Hidden Answers members, including Fox, but BesaAdmin declined.
Hippie, a 45-year-old woman, desperately wanted a loan (Besa advertised loan sharking as well) for $30,000. On hearing that she would have to deposit 1BTC to “prove she wasn’t a prankster”, she became desperate. Besa actually seemed to take pity on her and advised her not to use a loan shark.
She insisted she would come up with the money until eventually BesaAdmin said bluntly: “Our loan sharks usually give loans of 5000 max 30 000 and interest is about 10% per month that is a lot and if you don’t pay they kill you so leave us alone and go to a bank.”
They also provided something akin to compassion to a 17 year old girl who wanted to kill the two boys who raped her. She said it had not gone to court “because of my mental instability”.
And sometimes they cracked a funny. Whe user Netjens asked : “Is there any hitwomen?” BesaAdmin responded: “Why, do you want to make hitchildren?”
What is clear though is there are many people who are willing to pay to have other people in their lives murdered, raped or beaten. Some of the requests are terrifying in their brutality.
I couldn’t find any evidence of Bitcoin payments for any Australian targets, although several Australian targets were identified. I have considered contacting one of them, but am not quite sure how you open up a conversation telling a person someone wants an anonymous hitman to “break both his arms”.
The Australian Federal Police told me “Your questions would be best placed with Scamwatch”.
More from the Besa Mafia Files: