In an unprecedented event, Russian federal investigators succeeded in arresting those responsible for what is likely to be the first murder contracted via dark web, as mentioned by digital forensics experts. Russian authorities arrested two individuals related to the murder of Russian agent Yevgeniya Shishkina in October 2018.
The person in charge of perpetrating the murder of the agent was Abdulaziz Abdulazizov, a 19-year-old boy who shot the officer with a salvage weapon, modified to fire live ammunition; an 18-year-old boy, only identified as K.G. was also arrested. As reported by the Russian authorities, the crime’s intellectual author is a hacker known as Yaroslav Sumbaev, who was arrested in Georgia and is currently expecting his extradition to Russia.
Abdulazizov murdered the officer on 9 October 2018, fleeing the crime scene aboard a mobile app taxi; authorities used the records of these trips to track Abdulazizov. The killer remained on the run for five months, until in March 2019 he was arrested by Russian authorities. He is now awaiting trial, in which he could be sentenced to life in prison.
The killer had to move hundreds of miles to St. Petersburg to commit the crime. In that city, the other arrested, G.K., operated logistics for Abdulazizov’s arrival, stay and runaway. The intellectual author of the crime would have paid about $15k USD, which was split between the two defendants.
According to digital forensics specialists, Sumbaev, the murder’s operator, had been on the run for almost years, as agent Shishkina was investigating him for bank fraud, electronic fraud, among other crimes, making him one of the criminals most wanted cyber criminals for the Russian Federation.
One of the main campaigns deployed by Sumbaev was the attack on various travel companies, during which he defrauded thousands of tourists and made profits by millions of rubles. After Shishkina managed to arrest some of his accomplices in 2014, Sumbaev had to leave Russia. First, Sumbaev fled to Montenegro, then to Turkey, to end up hiding in Georgia.
According to digital forensics experts, once hiding in Georgia, Sumbaev began sending death threats to Agent Shishkina, who notified her superiors on the threats, although she refused to get special protection. During this time Sumbaev began working on the sale of drugs and weapons on dark web.
Eventually, the hacker decided to commission the agent’s murder, placing an ad on a dark web forum called Hydra. One of the arrested, identified as G.K., found Sumbaev’s announcement, allegedly in September 2018; contact was subsequently established between them through a private communication channel, where details to commit the crime were specified.
Experts in digital forensics from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mention that the murder was not only organized in dark web forums, but was also investigated in this sector of the Internet. Russian intelligence agencies, independent specialists and private companies collaborated in this research work.