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Deep dive into the dark web, local woman accused of using it to hire hitman

Posted at 6:46 PM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 17:46:33-04

WKBW — Court documents that read like a Hollywood crime movie paint a picture of an East Aurora woman who is accused of wanting to harm her ex-boyfriend.

Yanyan Lesser, 47, was arrested in March. She pleaded guilty to attempting to hire a hitman on the dark web to permanently injure her ex-boyfriend August 21st.

Lesser had conversations on the dark web, that according to court documents, included phrases like "I would like to give this guy a lesson," “please give him a good beating and let he always walk in wheelchair,” which helped lead to her arrest.

The case brought the use of the dark web front and center locally. Assistant Professor Alan Katerinsky at the University at Buffalo's School of Management said the big draw of it is anonymity.

"The dark web is a small portion of the deep web," he said. "The deep web is everything you can't get to with a normal search engine. Things behind pay walls, specially restricted areas."

According to court documents, Lesser made two bitcoin transfers, which totaled to over $7,000. Katerinsky said they're used in dark web purchases because they can't be traced.

The dark web is a hidden world where drug sales, arms sales, and stolen credit card information lives, yet it continues to operate. Katerinsky said volunteers devoted to absolute free speech keep the sites up. He added that because it's decentralized there's essentially no stopping it.

Katerinsky said activities on the dark web aren't necessarily unique activities, it's a new form of carrying out the activities.

"It's a 21st century version of a crime, that's really what we're talking about," he said. "Because there have been people arrested for trying to hire a hitman way before there was an internet."

Lesser faces a max penlty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.