Bitcoin Murder Plot Unpicked Thanks to Coinbase Withdrawal

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  • A retired husband has been arrested after paying a hitman to kill his wife in bitcoin
  • Nelson Replogle sent the payment, and key details on the hit, through Coinbase
  • Replogle seemingly failed to understand that bitcoin, and especially Coinbase, transactions are not private

A bizarre murder plot has been foiled after a husband paid a hitman to kill his wife in bitcoin…through Coinbase. Knoxville resident Nelson Replogle, who is now under arrest, is accused of ordering a hitman to kill his wife Ann, with his downfall coming via his use of Coinbase to send the payment. This is despite Replogle having submitted his personal details, and photograph, to the platform when he signed up, illustrating in a trice why exchanges are being forced to collect such information.

From the BBC to Texas

The strange case has an even more curious beginning – it was staff at the BBC in the UK who alerted the FBI about a possible threat to the life of a Texas woman, Ann Replogle, who in turn passed the details on to local sheriffs. A visit to the Replogles revealed no clues as to who would want to harm her, with both denying any knowledge of who would want to harm her.

Meanwhile the FBI’s cybercrime unit discovered that the BBC staff had been alerted to the threat to life by a bitcoin transaction that had been accompanied by a note describing the Ann’s car make and model, its registration plate, and the specific time at which she would be visiting the veterinarian at a later date.

Coinbase Bitcoin Transaction Leaves Nelson Exposed

Incorrectly assuming that everything he was sending was untraceable, Nelson Replogle had sent the incriminating digital bundle through Coinbase, leading to possibly the easiest crypto-related arrest the FBI has ever made. An urgent request for information by the FBI led to Coinbase handing over the name, address, and photograph of the individual who sent the payment, with Nelson arrested shortly afterward on a charge of arranging a murder for hire.

The thankfully peacefully concluded case is another example that illegal use of bitcoin is not as easy as media outlets make it seem.