A Beverly Hills man admitted attempting to hire a hitman on the darkweb to kill a woman.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of using interstate facilities to commit murder-for-hire. According to court documents, Berkett met a woman online in the summer of 2020. In October 2020, the woman flew to Los Angeles to have sex with the defendant.
Once the woman returned to her home, she allegedly tried to end things with Berkett.
In April 2021, a family member of the woman called and texted Berkett’s father about Berkett.
Later, Berkett’s found a purported murder-for-hire site on the darkweb. He hired a hitman for $13,000 to kill the “victim.” In the order description, Berkett wrote that he wanted the hit 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. I would like proof of her death sent to me. She has a distinctive tattoo on one of her forearms that I know the image of, so a photo of her corpse and a photo of her tattoo for identification would work. I’ll refrain from sending a picture of the tattoo to avoid doctored photos. If possible, letting me know if she was in Arizona or Idaho wuld also be appreciated so I can also verify via the obituaries.”
A media organization investigating murder-for-hire sites on the darkweb later contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Berkett’s hit. The media organization had identified the woman as the intended victim through the information Berkett had provided the administrator of the site, including “the identity and location of Victim 1, as well as social media accounts, nicknames, email, and a distinctive tattoo of Victim 1.”
Using blockchain analysis software, investigators identified Coinbase as the source of the $13,000 payment. Coinbase records identified Berkett as the owner of the account in question.
The FBI contacted the woman about the hit and Berkett. She told the FBI that she had flown to Los Angeles, where she had slept with the defendant. She described his behavior as “sexually aggressive.” After she left L.A., she stopped responding to Berkett’s messages. She complained that Berkett had attempted to contact her on “multiple social media and communications platforms” to get a response.
Posing as the hitman Berkett had hired on the darkweb, an undercover employee of the FBI contacted Berkett over WhatsApp. Berkett repeatedly incriminated himself in the conversations with the undercover fed.
UC: “Hi. You got the pictures?”
UC: “Yeah. So, I’m following up on uh, something that was started a little while ago. Um. I’m just making contact with you.”
Berkett: “Okay. I was actually surprised to get, get that through WhatsApp.”
UC: “I know. We switch things up every once in a while. We’ll pick another one after this.”
Berkett: “Okay, sounds good. Yeah, it seems to be the person. Uh, can’t recognize them about, can’t recognize them as well because of the graininess but, yeah that looks, that looks like them.”
UC: “That’s, that’s her, right?”
Berkett: “Yeah, that’s her.”
UC: “Confirming that’s the person that we talked about on the uh, on the other piece, right?”
UC: “Okay. And you’ve already made, you’re already made the uh, the uh… the B payment, right?”
Berkett: “Yeah, I’ve already done that.”
UC: “Okay, good.”
Berkett: “That was confirmed by uh… yeah.”
UC: “Good. Alright, so my understanding is what has to get done is this has to get done, uh we’re looking at some kind of accident or robbery to have gone wrong, right?”
Berkett: “That way it doesn’t get traced.”
UC: “Right, and then we need to work on making sure your alibi is good. Um, and then we need some, you want some kind of proof, and there’s, if I’m, if I’m getting the information right, it’s some kind of phone that needs to be taken care of as well, right?”
Berkett: “Uh, proof of the uh tattoo on her, one of her forearms.”
UC: “Okay. Do you want, is there, do you want that tattoo? Is that part of this?”
Berkett: “Just need a picture of it to verify.”
UC: “Okay, do you, do you want it? Do you, is that, what kind of souvenir do you need, or do you need one?”
Berkett: “Uh, just the photo…”
UC: “Just the photo.”
Berkett: “…of the tattoo.”
UC: “Okay, so”
Berkett: “It’s distinctive enough that I don’t need a souvenir.”
United States District Judge Mark C. Scarsi scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 12, 2022. Berkett faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.