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Woman charged in murder-for-hire plot

February 8, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman has been charged in federal court with trying to hire a hitman using bitcoin currency.

Online court records in the Wester District of Wisconsin indicate 37-year-old Kelly Harper of Columbus was charged Friday with racketeering. She’s due to make her initial court appearance Tuesday. Her attorney, federal public defender Joseph Bugni, didn’t immediately respond to a message Monday.

According to the criminal complaint, Harper used murder-for-hire sites on the dark web last fall to try to set up the murder of an unidentified Sun Prairie man. She supplied the administrator of one site with a photo of the man and his car during a chat in December. The administrator responded by demanding proof of payment in bitcoin. Harper responded by sharing a screenshot of a bitcoin wallet worth about $5,633.

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Police learned of the alleged plot after they received a call of a suspicious person at the man’s home on Jan. 12. An officer arrived and discovered the man in the middle of an interview with three journalists researching a murder-for-hire site on the dark web. They said they had uncovered a plot to kill him.

The man’s girlfriend filed a complaint with the FBI the next day.