A Michigan woman who turned to a bogus rent-a-hitman website to have an assassin kill her ex-husband was recently convicted for solicitation of murder.
The internet is amazing. You can find just about any kind of information or service if you put in the work and do some research, but when it comes to hiring someone to be your hitman, you may want to skip the obvious options. Wendy Wein, a 52-year-old woman from Michigan who wanted her ex-husband dead, failed to do just that. She found the website RentAHitman.com and assumed that it was a legitimate business where vengeful people like her could find professionals to do their dirty work for them. It won’t surprise anyone that this wasn’t the case and that she is now facing at least nine years behind bars.
RentAHitman.com promises confidentiality, boasts about complying with HIPPA, which apparently stands for the non-existent “Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964,” features testimonies from satisfied customers, including women who caught their husbands cheating, and offers access to a network of over 17,000 “field operatives”. And that’s apparently more than enough for people to put in an order for a hitman…
The bogus assassin-hiring website is the brainchild of Bob Innes, a 54-year-old Northern California man, who created it not as a joke or a honey-pot for people with criminal tendencies, but as part of an Internet security business that never took off. He registered RentAHitman.com on Feb. 5, 2005 and considered opening a network security business. Eventually, he put it up for sale, hoping to make a profit, but that didn’t really work out either, so he simply forgot about it.
Then, three years later, he happened to check an email address connected to the domain name and was shocked to see about 200 to 300 emails, many of them one-liners asking questions like: ‘How much for services?’ ‘Do you operate in this or that country?’ etc.
Innes was surprised by all these emails, but he still didn’t do anything with the domain name until 2010 when he got an email from an English woman who claimed she had been tricked out of an inheritance by some people and wanted to have them all killed. She said her situation was urgent and had no issue providing the names of her victims. Bob could tell she was serious, and the names she mentioned in her messages turned out to be her relatives.
But before turning in the woman to the authorities, Bob Innes gave her a chance to change her mind, just like he does everyone else who appears serious about their intention to hire a hitman via his website. He asked her if she still required the service and if she wanted to be placed in contact with a field operator. She said yes and ended up spending four months behind bars before being sent back to Britain.
“It’s a crazy world,” Innes told the Washington Post. “The Internet is obviously a dangerous place. And this website is a magnet for low-hanging fruit that are out there trying to harm other people.”
A decade after RentAHitman.com fooled its first real customer, dozens of other people have fallen prey to it, the latest of whom was Wendy Wein. She too got the chance to walk back on her plan to have her ex-killed, but she didn’t take it. She did mention that finding the website so easily was a bit weird but in the end went ahead with her plan.
“This is kind of weird that your company is not on the deep or dark web,” Wein wrote to Innes. “I prefer not going to jail. Thank you for your time.”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly where she went after the owner of RentAHitman.com reported her to the police. Now, the 52-year old is looking at a minimum of nine years behind bars after pleading guilty earlier this month to solicitation of murder and using a computer to commit a crime. Her sentence is due in January.
“I don’t get it, people are just stupid,” Bob Innes eloquently summed up the whole story of RentAHitman.com.