A doctor from the Atlanta area tried hiring a hitman on the dark web to kill his girlfriend, federal officials said.
Now, James Wan has been sentenced to seven years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia announced in a Jan. 18 news release.
The 54-year-old from Duluth spent more than $24,000 in Bitcoin to place a murder-for-hire order in 2022, McClatchy News previously reported.
Wan’s defense attorneys argued for a lower sentencing, saying he had expressed remorse and taken responsibility for his actions. They told McClatchy News they are awaiting his placement by the Bureau of Prisons and did not have additional comment.
‘Accident is better’
On April 18, 2022, Wan accessed a site where he placed the order to kill his girlfriend of nine years, federal officials said in a sentencing memorandum.
In a receipt of the order, he said, “Can take wallet phone and car. Shoot and go. Or take car,” according to prosecutors.
He sent half the money up front, and in his order included his girlfriend’s full name, address, vehicle and license plate, officials said.
After his Bitcoin payment worth $8,000 didn’t show up in his account on the site, Wan contacted an administrator, who said the transaction hadn’t gone through, prosecutors said.
“I guess I lost $8k,” Wan said, according to officials.
So he paid another $8,000 using cryptocurrency, and the administrator confirmed the money went through to his account, authorities said.
When the administrator asked whether he preferred an “accident or normal shooting,” Wan replied, “accident is better,” officials said.
He began checking his order status every day for nearly a month and turned to the site’s forum to express that he wanted to kill his girlfriend “fast,” federal agents said.
When messaging with an administrator of the website, Wan asked how soon it could be done.
“This weekend? We have a court date Thursday 17. It would be good if it could be done before the 17,” he said, according to court documents.
He made one more payment of about $8,000 in Bitcoin plus another $1,200 to complete the transaction, records show.
FBI agents received a tip that Wan had made Bitcoin payments in an attempt to kill his girlfriend.
When they spoke with his girlfriend in May 2022, she told them she and Wan weren’t on good terms. She said they had been arguing and she had recently seen him taking a zoomed-in video of her license plate, according to federal agents.
After learning this, law enforcement took her to a safe place, officials said.
When the FBI spoke with Wan, he initially denied having access to the dark web and said maybe he was hacked, documents said. Later, investigators said he told them he made a “mistake,” according to agents.
On May 17, Wan logged into the app on his phone in front of the agents to cancel the order, according to federal officials, and he was arrested a few days later.
He pleaded guilty to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire in October 2023.
FBI agent Keri Farley called the effort a “cold hearted” plot in the release.
A judge sentenced Wan to the government’s recommended 87 months in prison.