How this 60-year-old man was tracked by police for hiring a hitman through dark web

An individual originally from Knoxville, Tennessee has been sentenced to 7 years in prison after being found guilty of hiring a hitman through an illegal dark web forum. Nelson Paul Replogle, 60, admitted the charges against him, saying he paid just over 0.2 Bitcoin to an alleged hitman in exchange for murdering his wife, Ann Replogle.

The defendant seemed confident that everything would go according to plan, although everything changed when an anonymous informant revealed to a BBC journalist that someone was looking for a hitman to attack the woman. The journalist notified this report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which immediately ordered protection for the victim and began to investigate the report.

Although investigators questioned Replogle, there didn’t appear to be anything suspicious with the man, so they decided to analyze the activity on the dark web forum where the deal would have been finalized. The FBI discovered that Replogle had first accessed this platform on April 15, 2021, where he offered the dirty work to someone interested.

This dark web platform turned out to be a lure to catch unwary people unfamiliar with illegal activities on the dark web, so Replogle actually interacted with a user dedicated to deceiving those interested in cybercrime. The defendant and the alleged hitman agreed on a price and details of the cryptocurrency transaction. Replogle wanted to pass off the murder as a traffic accident.

The alleged hitman also shared the details of the cryptocurrency transaction, so the FBI was able to trace the paid Bitcoin back to an account on the Coinbase platform controlled by Replogle. The defendant was incredibly careless, as this activity could be linked to an IP address associated with an AT&T account owned by the defendant.

Replogle pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder in late 2021, being sentenced to 7 years and three months in federal prison just a few weeks ago. The accused must also serve a period of three years’ release under supervision after serving his sentence.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.