American Charged with Attempting to Hire Hitman on Dark Net

A New Jersey man has been charged with trying to hire a hitman on the dark net to kill a child with whom he exchanged sexually explicit images. 

John Michael Musbach was arrested on Thursday for allegedly paying $20,000 in Bitcoin to have his then 14-year-old victim murdered. The 31-year-old Haddonfield resident was charged with one count of murder-for-hire.

According to court documents, Musbach began communicating with his victim in the summer of 2015, when the boy was aged 13. 

Using an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) website, Musbach requested and received sexually explicit videos and photographs of his victim. Musbach also sent indecent images and videos of himself to the victim.

An investigation was launched in September 2015 when the victim's parents discovered the message exchange. 

Law enforcement officers arrested Musbach in March 2016 on charges relating to child sexual abuse images. During a search of Musbach's residence, officers seized a cell phone and a laptop provided to Musbach by his then-employer, a cloud hosting company.

In February 2018, Musbach received a two-year suspended sentence with parole supervision for life after he pleaded guilty in October 2017 to endangering the welfare of a child (the victim) by sexual contact.  

In 2019, agents from Homeland Security Investigations in St. Paul, Minnesota, were provided with messages between Musbach and a fraudulent murder-for-hire website that operated on the dark net.

Those messages, supplied by an informant, revealed that in May 2016, Musbach contacted the website. Using the alias Agentisai, Musbach asked if a 14-year-old was too young to target. 

After being assured that a 14-year-old victim was acceptable, Musbach paid around 40 Bitcoin (approximately $20,000) for the hit. 

Court documents show that Musbach repeatedly messaged the website’s administrator to ask when the hit would occur. When pressed for an additional $5,000 by the scammers, Musbach tried to cancel the deal and asked for a refund.

The Department of Justice said: "Agents were able to confirm Musbach’s identity through several means, including linking him to the same screen name he used to communicate with the murder-for-hire website and also by tracing the flow of monies from Musbach’s bank account to the purchase of Bitcoin used to pay for the hit."

If convicted, Musbach could face 10 years behind bars plus a hefty fine.

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