The transparency that Bitcoin provides was useful for the criminal investigation agency of the United States Department of Justice, FBI, to clarify a murder attempt. It is the case of a man who is now accused of planning the murder of his wife through a hitman in the state of Tennessee.
A private BBC report alerted the FBI that Ann Replogle’s life was in danger, as she was the target of contract murder. Somehow, the news outlet had learned that the woman should be attacked at the precise moment in which she was taking her pet to a scheduled appointment with the vet.
According to court documents, the information provided about the attack accurately indicated the date, time, make, model and color of the car in which Replogle would be traveling. With such data in their hands, FBI agents contacted the woman and her husband to update them on the wake-up call.
Later, when officials asked the couple if they suspected someone who wanted to harm them, they replied that they could not think of anyone in their environment who might have the intention of hurting them.
Later, however, the FBI investigation revealed that the Coinbase cryptocurrency wallets of Nelson Replogle, the victim’s husband, had transferred $17,800 worth of bitcoins.
By scanning the blockchain, the agents verified that Nelson Replogle had transferred his bitcoins to an address published on a murder-for-hire page he found on the dark web. In addition, Coinbase provided the agents with the photos and data that the man had used to verify his identity when registering on the platform.
Nelson Replogle was arrested on April 21 and is due to appear in court later this month, where he faces a 10-year sentence. So far, the FBI has not identified the hit man or group of assassins allegedly hired to participate in the plot.
Bitcoin and cash vs crime
It is true that Bitcoin has a fungibility problem because it is transparent. This transparency allows everyone to check how many bitcoins are in circulation. It is also useful for making sure no one cheats, a feature that cash is not , which is not traceable.
Bitcoin is often associated with illicit activities, but little mention is made that cash remains the preferred method of criminals because it is the most efficient way to evade justice. This was demonstrated by Europol in its report Why is cash still king? o Why is cash still king?
However, there are also those who refute the long-standing narrative, which seeks to disqualify bitcoin for its links to crime. As reported by us recently, a former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) published a document in which he reached two important conclusions. The first one refers to the broad generalizations about the use of bitcoin in illicit finance is significantly exaggerated. The second is about blockchain analysis as a highly effective crime-fighting and intelligence gathering tool.