It exists in the deepest darkest corner of the web, the Dark Web (or Deep Web), a hidden, encrypted part of the Internet only accessible through Tor (i.e. The Onion Router). Its intent is not entirely clear. Is it a sick form of gambling entertainment or is it a marketplace providing an anonymous bidding service for hired contract killers? Assassination Market claims to be a “prediction market” where any party can place a bid guessing the date of death of a given individual. The catch is this – if you guess the date correctly, you take home all of the funds in the “dead pool”. Think about the ramifications of this scheme – this inadvertently (or purposefully) provides incentive for a would-be assassin to complete the kill and take home the bounty.
Is this for real? Most on the Dark Web believe the site (more accurately termed a “hidden service”, which often disappears for periods of time), is legit. It works like this:
(1) Use Assassination Market’s online auction to add a person’s name to the hit list
(2) Add money to the pot in the person’s name (in untraceable Bitcoin currency of course)
(3) Enter your prediction for when that person will die
(4) If the person dies on the date you predicted, you earn all the cash in the pot.
Assassination Market adds a fifth instruction:
(5) “Making your prediction come true is entirely optional”.
Disregarding otherwise lax online gambling laws, many believe Assassination Market’s scheme is technically legal. After all, you are simply entering into a pot to predict a person’s date of death and knowing the date rather than performing the action of the assassin is substantially more difficult to assign criminal liability for. But the consequences are mind boggling – an assassin can use the market as a means to solicit bids for their next job. When the bid reaches the amount of money they require for the hit, they simply enter the date they will conduct the hit, do the job, and collect the money from the dead pool.
Individuals on the list include James Robert Clapper (Director of National Intelligence), Keith Brian Alexander (former NSA Director), Ben Shalom Bernanke (former Federal Reserve Chairman), and of course, President Barack Obama. Currently the going price for Bernanke is in the five-figure range, significantly less that I’d imagine a contracted hit would be worth to a professional killer.