SINGAPORE - Consumed by jealousy, a risk management executive went on the Dark Web to hire a hitman to murder his former lover's boyfriend in a staged car accident.
But the executive was arrested after a journalist in the United States tipped off Singapore authorities about the planned hit.
The court heard that the Dark Web contains websites that are not indexed by search engines such as Google. It is accessible only by special software where users and website operators can remain anonymous as well as untraceable.
On Wednesday (July 17), Allen Vincent Hui Kim Seng, 47, pleaded guilty in court to one count of intentionally abetting "Camorra Hitmen" to kill the 30-year-old man.
Hui was a married man when he started an extramarital relationship with one of his colleagues, Ms Ng Woan Man, on April 22, 2016.
They continued with the affair even after he left their firm in November that year. Details about the company were not revealed in court documents.
In April 2017, Hui suggested that he and Ms Ng start cohabiting. She then rented a flat and moved in. He did not move in with her.
Ms Ng, who was also 30 at the time, ended the relationship in February last year after realising that he had no intention of leaving his wife.
However, the pair remained on talking terms and he continued to pursue his former girlfriend even though she repeatedly rebuffed his efforts.
He also continued buying her gifts and financing half the rental flat. He even made her a beneficiary of his Central Provident Fund account and life insurance policy.
The woman met her new boyfriend, Mr Tan Han Shen, while working at another firm and they started dating on April 27 last year.
When Hui found out that she was moving on, he became jealous and stalked her to find out more about Mr Tan.
On May 6 last year, Hui went to the Camorra Hitmen website and asked them to cut off Mr Tan's right hand.
While there was no mention in court documents whether the people Hui communicated with on the Dark Web were real hitmen or scammers, the Camorra is an Italian Mafia-type crime syndicate.
The court heard that Hui later amended the order and asked for Mr Tan "to be rendered unable to use his right hand for life" instead.
Hui was told that he would need to pay the hitman only after the job was completed.
But before that, he had to transfer sufficient bitcoins into his account on the Camorra Hitmen website as proof of his ability to pay.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Chua told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan: "In accordance with Camorra Hitmen's instructions, the accused purchased 0.03 bitcoin valued at $600 on a bitcoin trading website and transferred the bitcoins into his Camorra Hitmen account to facilitate the hit."
Three days later, Hui waited near Ms Ng's flat and spotted Mr Tan taking her home in a car. After noting down the vehicle's number plate, he tailed Mr Tan to Hougang in his own car, the court heard.
Hui then contacted Camorra Hitmen and asked them to pour acid on Mr Tan's face. He also transferred about $3,000 worth of bitcoins to his Camorra Hitmen account.
However, Camorra Hitmen later told him that they were against the use of acid as it made avoiding detection more difficult.
They suggested that Mr Tan be killed instead in a staged car accident or robbery. The court heard that on May 10 last year, they told Hui that the price of a kill job was an additional US$5,000 (S$6,800).
Hui, who found this price too steep, asked for a staged car accident to leave Mr Tan crippled for life. He transferred another $3,200 worth of bitcoins to his Camorra Hitmen account.
DPP Chua said: "However, a few hours later, the accused changed his mind again as he was still intent on murdering the victim.
"He tried to bargain with Camorra Hitmen and asked if they could still proceed with the kill job if he added another US$1,000 worth of bitcoin into his account. Camorra Hitmen affirmed that they could do so."
The DPP added that the murder was to take place between 7pm and 8pm on May 22 that year.
This timing was chosen as Hui knew Mr Tan would be dropping off Ms Ng at the airport earlier that day and Hui did not want her to be injured.
But on May 12 last year, a journalist from US-based media company CBS contacted the Singapore Embassy in Washington and told it about the "hit".
Court documents did not reveal how the journalist found out about the plan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs alerted the Singapore Police Force and officers arrested Hui five days later.
"Following his arrest and under (police) directions, he was ordered to cancel the hit and withdraw all bitcoins from his Camorra Hitmen account," said DPP Chua.
Hui is represented by lawyer Lee Teck Leng. His case has been adjourned to Sept 4 for mitigation and sentencing.
For intentionally abetting Camorra Hitmen to kill the man, Hui can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.