In a brief yet fascinating press release, Europol just announced the arrest of an Italian man who is accused of “hiring a hitman on the dark web”.

According to Europol:

The hitman, hired through an internet assassination website hosted on the Tor network, was paid about €10,000 worth in Bitcoins to kill the ex-girlfriend of the suspect.

Heavy stuff, though Europol isn’t saying much more about how it traced the suspect other than that it “carried out an urgent, complex crypto-analysis.”

In this case, the word crypto is apparently being used to refer to cryptocurrency, not to cryptography or cryptanalysis.

In other words, the investigation seems to have focused on unravelling the process that the suspect followed in purchasing the bitcoins used to pay for the “hit”, rather than on decrypting the Tor connections used to locate the “hitman” in the first place, or in tracing the bitcoins to the alleged assassin.

Fortunately (if that is the right word), and as we have reported in the past, so-called dark web hitmen often turn out to be scammers – after all, if you’ve just done a secret online deal to have someone killed, you’re unlikely to complain to the authorities if the unknown person at the other end runs off with your cryptocoins: