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A California man has been accused of trying to hire a hitman with the cyber currency Bitcoin and $1,000 in cash, to kill a woman he briefly dated, and who later rebuffed his repeated advances.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 24, is now facing a federal murder-for-hire charge after he allegedly wired money to an undercover FBI agent who he believed was a hitman and demanded a proof of death photo, according to a statement from the Central District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Berkett and the woman he’s accused of wanting to kill met through a Facebook fan page related to a Japanese anime show. They began a personal correspondence with one another around July 2020, according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
The woman flew to Los Angeles to meet Berkett in October, but she found him to be “sexually aggressive” and tried to break up with him as soon as the trip ended, authorities said.
Investigators said Berkett didn’t accept the breakup. Instead, he became “very possessive” and began to “constantly” message the woman on multiple social media and communication platforms, according to the affidavit.
The woman repeatedly tried to end the relationship in the months that followed, while Berkett harassed her. In April, one of the woman’s family members called and texted Berkett’s father, requesting that Berkett stop contacting the woman.
Scott Berkett allegedly began using his father’s phone and insisted in a message that the relationship was over, writing “She is blocked from all social media. Will consider this matter closed,” the affidavit stated.
Yet investigators allege that Berkett soon reached out to an organization on the dark web advertising murder-for-hire services and arranged for someone to kill the woman, providing information specific to her identity, location, social media accounts, nicknames, email and a distinctive tattoo she had, authorities said.
He allegedly placed the hit order on April 28, providing detailed specifics about how he wanted her death to be carried out.
“I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better. So long as she is dead. I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process,” he wrote, using the username “Ula77,” according to the affidavit.
Later that day, he provided more detailed instructions.
“I would like proof of her death sent to me,” he said according to the court documents. “She has a distinctive tattoo on one of her forearms that I know the image of, so a photo of her corpse and a photo of her tattoo for identification would work.”
Berkett also allegedly told the group he would look for the woman’s obituary in the local papers.
Between April 5 and May 5, investigators said Berkett made Bitcoin payments totaling $13,000 to pay for the hit.
Authorities said the group Berkett had contacted was part of a “scam”; however, the group did reach out to a local media outlet, who contacted the FBI.
An undercover FBI agent then posed as a hitman to make contact with Berkett. The agent sent Berkett a photo of woman, who Berkett confirmed was his intended target. He also allegedly wired a final $1,000 cash payment through Western Union on May 19 at a Rite Aid near his home.
Berkett was later arrested and taken into federal custody.
He is scheduled to make his initial appearance in United States District Court on Tuesday.
If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
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