Twenty-three gang members and associates indicted on racketeering, drug trafficking, and firearm charges
ATLANTA –James Wan, M.D., has pleaded guilty to paying a hitman he found on the dark web to murder his girlfriend.
“Wan used the dark web to conceal his deadly plan,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Fortunately, his plot was discovered before anyone was killed or injured.”
"Despite his cowardly concealment on the dark web, Wan’s cold hearted murderous plot was averted due to the exceptional work of our team. He will now face the full consequences of the criminal justice system,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This case shows that the FBI will not tolerate heinous acts of violence and will go to great lengths to protect our citizens.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: On April 18, 2022, while in the Northern District of Georgia, Wan accessed a dark web marketplace from his cellular telephone and submitted an order to have a hitman murder his girlfriend. The order included the victim’s name, address, Facebook account, license plate, and car description. In the order, Wan stated: “Can take wallet phone and car. Shoot and go. Or take car.” Wan then electronically transferred a 50% downpayment of approximately $8,000 worth of Bitcoin to the dark web marketplace.
Two days later, Wan messaged the marketplace’s administrator, stating that the transferred Bitcoin did not show up in his escrow account on the site. The next day, the marketplace administrator asked Wan for the Bitcoin address to which Wan had sent the payment. In response, Wan identified the Bitcoin wallet address and provided a screenshot of the transaction. When the administrator said that the address Wan provided was not in their system, Wan replied, “Damn. I guess I lost $8k. I’m sending $8k to escrow now.” Wan then electronically transferred an additional Bitcoin payment worth approximately $8,000 to the marketplace. The administrator confirmed the new address was correct and that the Bitcoin had arrived in the escrow account. The administrator stated that they were proceeding with Wan’s order for a hit and asked whether Wan wanted it done as an “accident or normal shooting.” Wan responded, “accident is better.”
About a week later, on April 29, 2022, Wan electronically transferred another payment of approximately $8,000 worth of Bitcoin to the dark web marketplace to ensure his escrow account contained the total required to complete the order. Shortly thereafter, Wan posted the following in a forum on the dark web marketplace: “How soon should work be done? I have submitted an Order and curious how quickly it should be carried out? Is there a way I can find out any progress? If there is anyone in my location?”
On May 10, 2022, after the value of Bitcoin dropped, Wan electronically transferred another payment of approximately $1,200 worth of Bitcoin to the marketplace to ensure his escrow account still contained the total required to complete the order.
After learning about the threat to the victim’s life, FBI agents notified the victim, provided her protection, and questioned Wan. Wan admitted that he had placed the order, made the payments, and checked the status of the order daily on the dark web marketplace. Records from Wan’s cellular telephone and his Bitcoin wallet corroborated Wan’s confession. After speaking with FBI agents, Wan canceled the order on the dark web marketplace.
James Wan, 54, of Duluth, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire. The sentencing is scheduled for January 18, 2024, before U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret R. Hobson is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.