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Hitman Shoppers, Beware Online Specials

by Jo Ellen Nott 

California Bay area self-styled cyber crusader Bob Innes has been receiving emails asking him to arrange murders for over 10 years. Innes created a website in 2005 to offer internet analytics services and named it “Rent-A-Hitman, Your Point and Click Solution” to draw in potential clients. When the business went bust, Innes closed the website for several years. What he did not expect was the type of clients the website drew in when he checked its emails years later. Innes was astonished to find hundreds of requests for assistance in arranging assassinations instead of requests for analyses of webpage performance.

The case that Innes remembers best was the request in 2010 that started his do-it-yourself detective work. Helen in Canada requested assistance from the site to provide a hitman to murder three family members. When Innes responded, “Do you still require our services, and would you like us to put you in contact with a field operative?” she wrote back yes. Innes then turned the case over to law enforcement. Helen had had a long history of family troubles relating to being disinherited and was eventually extradited to the United Kingdom.

Aggrieved clients miss several indicators that the website is a sham. The most obvious is the banner on the first page touting the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. A “Card Check” ad on the site asks if your credit card has been stolen on the internet and then provides fields to type in your credit card number and its expiration date. Doing this loops you back to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Apparently, the ad that most convinces disgruntled folks to order a hit is the claim “your privacy is important to us and is protected by the Hitman Information Privacy and Protection Act of 1964,” a spoof on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

Despite these red flags and multiple news stories about the website being a sham, Innes continues to receive inquiries from individuals all over the planet hoping to source a hired gun. Analytics show the website has been viewed in 160 countries. A request for a hatchet man has come from as far away as Indonesia.

Innes has turned over 150 cases to law enforcement since he began reading the emails attached to his fake site. In 2018, Innes was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of the then 21-year-old Devon Fauber in Virginia for solicitation to commit first-degree murder of his girlfriend and her parents. His message allegedly submitted via Rent-A-Hitman read: “Make sure you kill them and don’t kill the baby.” Fauber was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended.

Innes’ latest thwarted assassination attempt involved a 51-year-old Michigan woman who inquired in July of 2020 about having her spouse murdered. Wendy Wein now faces sentencing in January of 2022 for pleading guilty to charges of solicitation of murder and the use of a computer to commit a crime. Wein faces up to nine years in prison.

Innes said in an ABC7 News live report in November of 2021: “It’s scary because they walk among us … they’re out there.” Are you on good terms with your spouse, neighbor, business associates, and in-laws? If not, you might want to chat up Bob Innes to see if you are on a hit list.

Sources: cnn.com, abc7news.com, yahoo.com, dailymail.com.uk

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