Wendy Wein wanted her ex-husband dead, and she was prepared to pay to make it happen.
Wendy Wein wanted her ex-husband dead, and she was prepared to pay to make it happen. Luckily for him, she attempted to hire a hitman through a fake website designed to dupe people on the hunt for hired killers.
On the hunt for a hitman
In July last year, Wendy, who’s from Michigan, sent an email to a man she believed was named Guido Fanelli, who ran a website called Rent-A-Hitman.com. “Got A Problem That Needs Resolving? With Over 17,985 U.S. Based Field Operatives, We Can Find A Solution Thats Right For You!” the site assured, boasting almost 18,000 field operatives who can do a job anywhere in the U.S.
Wendy, then 51 years old, did have a problem. As she relayed in her email to Fanelli, a man had ripped her off for $20,000 (her ex-husband, as authorities later learned), and she wanted him dealt with. “I prefer not going jail. Thank you for your time,” the message concluded.
But Guido Fanelli doesn’t exist. Rent-A-Hitman is run by a California man called Bob Innes, and its “operatives” have never killed anyone. Instead, the organization acts as a sting operation, catching people who are looking for hired killers and turning them over to the police. Confidentiality is guaranteed under the “Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964,” a cheeky nod to HIPAA, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“I thought nobody can be that stupid, and boy have I been proven wrong,” Innes, 54, told CNN. “These people … whoever they are, they see HIPAA, they think privacy. So they feel compelled to leave their real information — names, address, where the intended target is…”
A fake site littered with red flags
As CNN reports, Innes left red flags all over the site — which he created in 2005 as a “class project” — indicating that it’s a trap. Most obviously, the website openly suggests that it offers illegal services. Its bogus testimonials include one from a woman who’s “ready to mingle” after she found her spouse cheating with a babysitter. Nevertheless, more than 400 people have apparently filled service request forms on the site since it launched, about 10% of which have become legitimate cases involving the police.
The police close in
When Wein reiterated after a 24-hour cooling-off period that she still wanted to hire a killer, Innes turned her details over to Michigan State Police. They sent an undercover state trooper posing as a hitman to meet her in a parking lot in South Rockwood, south of Detroit.
Wein offered the officer $5,000 to kill her ex-husband, and gave him an upfront payment to cover travel expenses out of state, according to police. She was arrested and taken to the Monroe County Jail.
Wein pleaded guilty on November 12 to charges of solicitation for murder and use of a computer to commit a crime. She faces up to nine years in prison at her sentencing, scheduled for January, according to Sgt. Michael Peterson of Michigan State Police, who led the case.