The deep web is known for its questionable marketplaces. It’s common knowledge that anyone with an internet connection and a TOR browser can easily find anything they’d like to purchase with only a few clicks. If this sounds too easy, then you’re right. The truth is that practically anything is advertised for sale on the deep web, from counterfeit money to illegal pornography, but a majority of it is scams and FBI honeypots.
For many people, the deep web is almost an urban legend in and of itself. If it hadn’t been for websites like the Silk Road and the take down of major child pornography rings operating through TOR’s onion sites, one might get the impression that nothing on there really existed. While many scams do exist on the seedier end of the internet, it would seem that there are some sites that blur the lines between what’s real and what’s just a clever con.
In 2016, a hitman site that claimed to be run by the Albanian Mafia, known as Besa Mafia, began to gain traction within the deep web community. At first glance, the poorly written text and glowing “customer testimonials” seemed to have “scam” written on it from a mile away. While many deep web users had their reservations about whether or not the service was legitimate, that did not stop others from perpetuating through the rumor mills of online message boards that the hit man service was 100-percent real.
Through their clearweb marketing campaign, it wasn’t long before long anyone who had an interest in the deep web knew the name Besa Mafia. Some users went on their own personal crusades to inform other users that the website was a scam, but the cries of a few fell on deaf ears, and some were all too eager to hand over their bitcoins to these clever conmen.
Stephen Allwine was someone who got sucked into Besa Mafia’s marketing ploys. Under the username Dogdaygod, Allwine reached out to the website and explained to them his situation. He stated that he wanted his wife, Amy Allwine, murdered in a way that would look like a car accident. The anonymous user also explained that Amy would be traveling to Illinois in March and requested that this would be a good time to have his target executed.
These conversations between Dogdaygod and administrators for the Besa Mafia’s website went back and forth throughout that spring. After Dogdaygod paid the hit in full there was a delay and a Besa Mafia representative told him that he would have to pay an additional $12,000 because the guy they sent had been caught by the police.
It would seem that Besa Mafia was a clear cut scam, until something very interesting happened. Some of the biggest mythbusters within the deep web community had been tiring of the rumors about Besa Mafia and hoped to settle them once and for all. For experienced deep web users the site appeared to be another fraud, but was it?
In April of 2016, several cars were set on fire. In the videos there were signs held up, declaring that they were the work of the Besa Mafia and dedicated the car burnings to three of Besa Mafia’s biggest whistleblowers. This could offer some explanation on how people like Dogdaygod could have still held on to the belief that the site had been a legitimate venture.
By May of 2016, the site would come crashing down. Hackers broke into Besa Mafia’s servers and a litany of information was published in regards to the website and its users. The FBI took particular interest in this information and through the leak, they learned that a hit had been taken out on Amy Allwine.
Since the service was anonymous, officials had no way of knowing who had taken a hit out on her. The Allwines were contacted about the situation and a new security system was put into their home. Amy Allwine had no idea that the person who had ordered the hit on her had been her own husband.
Forced to come up with a new plan, Allwine turned to another deep web marketplace. This time he was interested in a drug called scopolamine, which is an anti-nausea medication. It is often given to people during surgery or to treat motion sickness. It’s a drug that is relatively safe in therapeutic doses, but an overdose can cause bizarre hallucinations and seizures. Allwine believed that the drug would wipe Amy’s memory clean and force her to come under his control.
On November 13, 2016, Allwine’s plan had been set into motion. That morning, Allwine slipped the odorless and colorless powder to Amy. She complained throughout the day that she wasn’t feeling well and the web search history on the couple’s computer showed that she had searched for the symptoms of vertigo on the day of her death.
Later that day, Allwine would proceed to shoot Amy in the head. He positioned her to appear that she had committed suicide. When he returned from picking his son up from his grandparents’ home, his son asked, “Why is Mommy sleeping on the floor?” Allwine’s response was that she was probably dead and he proceeded to contact emergency dispatch.
Investigators at the scene noted that there were no signs of forced entry and proceeded to question Allwine. Gunpowder residue was found on his hands. It wasn’t until a forensic examination of Allwine’s computer that they were able to link him to the Dogdaygod account from the Besa Mafia leaks. Google searches were also found for scopolamine, the drug found in Amy’s system at the time of her death.
Allwine is still awaiting trial for his wife’s murder. He was allowed to walk free on a conditional bail of $500,000. He was rearrested in early 2017, after attempting to contact his son and track him with a smartwatch, which went against the conditions of his bail.