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Date: 07-08-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Yue Zhou

Case Number: 24-CR-123 (MKB)

Judge:

Court: The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office for Brooklyn

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description:

Brooklyn, New York criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with Using a Hitman-For-Hire Website on the Dark Web

Queens Woman Charged With Using a Hitman-For-Hire Website on the Dark Web to Order Murder of Her Lover’s Wife



This afternoon, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Yue Zhou is scheduled to be arraigned on an indictment charging her with murder-for-hire. Zhou was arrested on June 5, 2024 in the Eastern District of Virginia and removed to the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. Today’s proceeding will be held before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the charges.

“As alleged, the defendant took affirmative steps to hire a hit man to carry out the ruthless killing of the wife of her romantic partner,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Her depraved plan was only thwarted because the web site she used to set up the murder-for-hire was a scam. Although the scheme involved newer technologies like the Internet and Bitcoin, the end result would have been age-old cold-blooded murder.”

Mr. Peace thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for their assistance.

“Yue Zhou is accused of offering cryptocurrency, cash, and even sexual favors during her discussions related to having her then-partner’s spouse and adult daughter killed. Little did she know, the website she allegedly thought she was using to solicit a hitman was a farce, and the crimes of which she is accused soon caught up to her,” stated HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Arvelo. “I commend HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force Cyber Division, Customs and Border Protection, the New York Police Department, and the Eastern District of New York for their unwavering commitment to utilizing their state-of-the-art methods to secure justice on behalf of New Yorkers.”

As alleged in the indictment and other court documents, between March 25, 2019 and April 4, 2019, Zhou sought to hire a hitman through a murder-for-hire website on the dark web (Website) to murder Victim-1, the spouse of the defendant’s then-romantic partner. Using an alias on the website, Zhou placed an order to have Victim-1 murdered. To pay for the murder, Zhou contracted with a Bitcoin exchange service in Ukraine to make a $5,000 payment in Bitcoin on her behalf to the Website. Zhou provided approximately $5,000 in cash to a middleman in Brooklyn and then communicated with the Website administrator to confirm payment. After sending payment, Zhou provided a detailed description of Victim-1, including her home, her work schedule, and the best times to target Victim-1, so that Victim-1’s husband would have an alibi for the murder. Zhou later tried to use to the Website to secure the murder of Victim-2, her romantic partner’s adult daughter. In February 2021, Zhou also sent a text message to a neighbor of Victim-2 seeking to hire that neighbor to kill Victim-2. Zhou offered the neighbor $10,000 and sexual favors in exchange for killing Victim-2 and disposing of the body in a lake. Zhou was not aware at the time of her scheme that the Website was a scam operated by a third party and there was no actual hitman for hire.

Outcome:

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defendant's Experts:

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