A 21-year-old Aiken County woman who attempted to hire a hitman on the darkweb pleaded guilty to cyberstalking in South Carolina.
Kelsey Curles, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking. As a part of the crime, Curles admitted that she had attempted to hire a hitman to kill her former partner and his wife. Between July 30, 2021, and November 5, 2021, Curles searched the darkweb for a contract killer. The defendant also “sent numerous emails to her former lover and his wife, and posted their names and addresses on the dark web,” according to a news article about the case.
The murder-for-hire plot resulted in the same ending as all but two cases I am aware of and one case covered by this site. As readers know, a single fraudster is behind many of the murder-for-hire onion services. At least two people voluntarily hack these services, identify the customers, and send evidence to law enforcement agencies. In late 2021, we started seeing some differences in these cases. The most significant difference appears to be an active role played by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to courtroom reporting from The State, Curles unknowingly contacted an undercover FBI agent when searching for a hitman. “After numerous contacts with the FBI,” Curles called the hit off. She had already made a down payment on the hit using a Bitcoin ATM. She had also asked the undercover fed to let her know the date of any plans so that she could leave town.
The court documents contain nothing of interest regarding the FBI’s murder-for-operation on the darkweb. They are almost entirely devoid of meaningful information altogether.
One of the conditions of Curles’ plea agreement:
Provided the Defendant cooperates pursuant to the provisions of this Plea Agreement and that cooperation is deemed by the government as providing substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person. the government agrees to move the Court for a downward departure or reduction of sentence pursuant to United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines […] or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.
Under the plea agreement, Curles faces a maximum prison sentence of five years in custody. Her age and lack of criminal history combined with whatever downward departure is applied will likely result in a lighter sentence than the statutory maximum.
DNL: Is there a material difference to the defendant when the murder-for-hire investigation machine is controlled by “journalists”/ volunteers and when the feds run the scam from the start? Obviously not.