A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin using a bogus website. She’s not the only one

The site boasts of having nearly 18,000 field agents who can perform work anywhere in the United States. It features testimonials from satisfied customers, including a man who wrote that RentAHitman “dealt with my disgruntled employee issue quickly while I was on vacation out of town.”

Wein therefore filled out a form on the site, requesting a consultation for his problem.

“It’s a little weird that your business isn’t on the deep or dark web,” she wrote in a message to a man she believed to be the site’s chief consultant, Guido Fanelli. CNN obtained a copy of the message. “I prefer not to go to jail,” she added. “Thank you for your time.”

That didn’t stop Wein from later offering to pay $ 5,000 to have her husband killed.

But there was a problem.

Guido Fanelli is actually Bob Innes, a Californian who runs the website. Rent-A-Hitman’s “agents” never killed anyone. Instead, the site exists to fool people who are looking for contract killers.

And Wein is now heading to jail – one of Rent-A-Hitman’s many “clients” who have been convicted of using the site to solicit a murder.

Site owner delivers murderous “clients” to police

What started out as a website for an internet security company turned, by accident, into online bait for people looking to kill their enemies. Their requests for service go to Innes, who transmits serious investigations to the police.

Innes, who lives in Fairfield, Calif., Says he has left red flags all over his site suggesting it is a trap. For starters, the website openly suggests that it offers illegal services. His false testimonies include that of a woman who is “ready to meddle” after she catches her husband cheating with a babysitter.

Its 18,000 “field officers” are the estimated number of law enforcement agencies nationwide. At the bottom of the site, a link to verify if your credit card has been stolen directs users to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaints Center.

And the site promises privacy under the Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964, an ironic nod to HIPAA, the actual Medicare portability and liability law that was passed. in 1996 and which protects patients’ medical information.

But some people still fall into the trap, filling out online forms with their real names, contact details, and details of the people they want to “treat.”

Innes says more than 400 people have filled out service request forms on the site since its launch, including some who have expressed interest in becoming contract killers and pranksters trying to prank their friends. Of those, about 10% turned into legitimate cases in which the police intervened, he says.

“I thought no one could be this stupid, and I was wrong,” says Innes, 54. “These people… whoever they are, they see HIPAA, they think about privacy. So they feel obligated to leave their real information – names, address, where the intended target is…”

He gives people 24 hours to calm down before alerting the authorities

If someone fills out a form on their site and is explicitly looking to have someone killed, Innes will wait 24 hours before contacting the police.

“It’s kind of like a period of reflection, to come to your senses. I want to give people the opportunity to walk away,” he says. “After a day, I ask them two questions. Do you still need our services? Do you want to be put in touch with a field agent?

If they answer yes to both, Innes connects them with a law enforcement agency in their area, which takes care of communications with the suspect. Innes never discusses fees – he leaves that to the “field agents”.

“I just play between matchmakers with the police,” he says. “I’d rather be a state witness than a state conspirator.”

When Wein, the Michigan woman, confirmed after 24 hours that she still wanted to hire a killer, Innes passed her information on to Michigan State Police. They sent a state soldier, posing as an undercover hitman, meet her in a parking lot in South Rockwood, south of Detroit.
Wendy Wein was arrested last year and now faces up to nine years in prison.
Police said Wein offered to pay the soldier $ 5,000 to kill her ex-husband and provided his home address, workplace, and schedule. State police told CNN that they paid the soldier a $ 200 deposit for travel expenses because her ex-husband lived in another state.
Wein was arrested and pleaded guilty last month to soliciting murder and using a computer to commit a crime. She faces up to nine years in prison upon her sentencing, scheduled for January, said Sgt. Michael Peterson of Michigan State Police, who conducted the case.

“What stands out most in this case is the foolishness of the suspect (…) trying to hire a hitman from a website,” said Peterson.

The first serious case of the site concerned a requested hit on 3 people

Innes says he never intended to trap potential killers when he launched the website in 2005. He was trying to start an internet security business, focusing on web traffic and analytics. risks for small networks.

“Rent” like we hire, “hired guardian” like traffic and website analytics, “he says.

His internet security business never took off, so he tried to sell the domain name. There wasn’t a lot of interest from buyers so he forgot about it and left it dormant for years.

Then, one day in 2008, he checked the site’s inbox and was stunned.

“There were emails about ‘how much for a hit?’ “Do you hire a hitman?” Says Innes. “I didn’t know how to respond, frankly, so I closed the email inbox and left for a few years.”

Two years later, another murder for pay solicitation was sent to her inbox.

On its website, Rent-A-Hitman promises privacy under the "Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act 1964.

“I get an email from a woman saying she needs three people murdered,” says Innes. “A few hours later, she sent a second email with the names and addresses of the people she wanted to kill.”

The woman told Innes that she was a British citizen living in Ontario, Canada, and that the three people she wanted to kill had stolen her father’s inheritance.

Innes says he researched some of the addresses she provided and her information appeared to verify.

“She wanted revenge. She was going to stop at nothing,” he said. “I contacted a friend who was a sergeant and said, ‘I think this lady is serious, can we apply for a welfare check?” The friend warned the Canadian authorities.

The woman was arrested and spent a few months behind bars for soliciting a murder before being deported to Britain, Innes said.

“It was my first case. I said, ‘This $ 9.20 website just prevented three murders.’ This was the turning point for the website, ”said Innes.

So he turned the site into what he calls an “exaggerated parody,” with the HIPAA misrepresentation and special package deals for groups and seniors.

“Rent-A-Hitman is safe, secure, and available right here on the World Wide Web,” says the site, which promises to be “your point-and-click solution.”

Another man tried to use the website to kidnap a child

Innes’s website also led to the conviction of a man from Virginia who tried to hire someone to kill his ex-girlfriend and parents in 2018.

The man, Devon Fauber, is mentally disabled and told an officer posing as a hitman that he wanted to kill the three relatives so he could take care of his ex’s 3-year-old daughter. girlfriend, according to a report in The News Chef from Staunton, Virginia.
Devon Fauber, then 21, left the Augusta County, Va., Courthouse in November 2018 after pleading guilty to trying to hire a hitman to kill three people.

“Make sure you kill them and don’t kill the baby,” Fauber wrote in his online request for a hitman, says Innes. Fauber also requested that the child be kidnapped, along with his birth certificate, from his Staunton home, according to Innes.

Court records show that Fauber was sentenced in 2019 to 10 years in prison for solicitation to commit first degree murder.

Despite the publicity such cases bring to his website, Innes says he still receives inquiries online from people who want to hire a hitman. Some come from abroad to ask him if he can organize a hit in a specific country.

He never advertises the website, so he thinks people probably find him through online research. Innes says analyzes of his website show it has been viewed in 160 countries.

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling,” he said.

Innes says he is now trying to educate people about the dangers online and is calling for tougher laws for those convicted of using the internet to commit violent crimes.

“This is a work in progress, but if there are any lawmakers, internet security groups or anyone else who would like to help with this project, it would be greatly appreciated,” he said.

During this time, he will continue to play the go-between between the murderous clients and the police.

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