A Culpeper woman, who went online in an attempt to hire a hitman using bitcoin, was arrested today on federal criminal charges.
According to court documents, Annie Nicole Ritenour, 25, placed an “order” via the Dark Web that advertised murder-for-hire services. Ritenour created an account with the website and deposited approximately $3,200 in bitcoin to hire a hitman to kill her intended victim. To further assist with her “order,” Ritenour uploaded photos of her intended victim, as well as other personal information, including their place of employment, type of vehicle they own, and the best time and place to kill them.
“This case highlights the need for more intense federal enforcement of the cyber security protocols of the Internet,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia has made cybercrime a priority for this exact reason, and this murder-for-hire plot serves as an example of why we need to remain vigilant in the policing of those dark corners of the web where cybercrime thrives.”
“Upon learning of the murder-for-hire plot, the FBI moved quickly to ensure the safety of the intended victim and identified Ms. Ritenour as the person responsible for the threat,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Neil Mathison said today. “The FBI reminds the public that making threats online or using the Dark Web to hire someone to harm another has serious consequences, and we will work with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to hold criminals accountable.”
Ritenour is charged with one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and one count of murder-for-hire. If convicted, Ritenour faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald M. Huber is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.