Washington doctor accused of seeking hitman on dark web to kidnap his wife

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SPOKANE, Wash. (NewsNation Now) — A Washington state doctor has been accused of a plot to hire hitmen on the “dark web” to abduct his estranged wife and another person.

Dr. Ronald Craig Ilg, a neonatologist in Spokane, was charged with attempted kidnapping after two journalists investigating the dark web tipped off his estranged wife after they discovered the alleged scheme, according to the FBI.

Ilg allegedly sent anonymous messages, which date back to February and March 2021, under the username Scar215, according to court documents. He allegedly first used the site to try to hire someone to injure “VICTIM 1,” court documents said.

“The target should be given a significant beating that is obvious. It should injure both hands significantly or break the hands. I tried to attach a pic but it wouldn’t load. Also, the team should plant heroin and used needles with her DNA inside. After about seven days she is returned to her home,” he allegedly wrote.

Ilg allegedly placed $1,984.45 into an escrow account for the scheme, but it’s unclear whether the attack was carried out, according to court documents.

He allegedly returned to the site in March. In postings under the name Scar215, Ilg allegedly requested someone abduct his wife in order to convince her to stop court proceedings, according to court documents.

“I need a rush job for next week. I need the target kidnapped for five to seven days. While being held she is given at least daily doses of heroin. She is also strongly persuaded to do a few things within two weeks,” the post allegedly said.

“1, stop ALL Court proceedings, 2, return to your husband and the chaos you created, 3. Tell absolutely no one about this. Also, the team should plant heroin and used needles with her DNA inside. After about seven days she is returned to her home,” the post continued.

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Scott Augenbaum, a former FBI special agent, says the dark web is primarily used for criminal activity, and without tips from the public posts on the dark web are hard for law enforcement to trace. 

“Once you get one the dark web. It is the wild west and completely unregulated,” Augenbaum said.

“The dark web is kind of like an open-air bizarre; where all the bad guys gravitate and they sell, they buy information and also they sell anything. They will sell services. They sell services. They’ll sell drugs and it’s a closed community. So the only way you can get in there is if you know someone to vouch for you.”

The FBI said Ilg used Coinbase.com to transfer approximately $56,308.12 into escrow to pay for the assault of VICTIM 1 and for the plan to kidnap, assault, extort, and drug VICTIM 2.

One post read he would also offer multiple bonuses — one bonus of $10,000 would be given to kidnappers if they could get one of the victims to “return to your husband by asking to move back home and [explicit] him at least three times within the 2-week time frame,” court documents said.

“When it comes to money, money is really easy to trace. That’s why the bad guys make you pay the ransom in bitcoins. Because bitcoins are untraceable wallets that are making a mainstream appearance nowadays,” Augenbaum said. 

In text messages obtained by the FBI, the doctor denied the allegations, saying: “I absolutely did not hire anyone. That’s a lie.” 

Federal investigators were able to track Ilg down, connecting his online bitcoin transfers with his personal accounts. Agents say after they confronted the doctor he attempted to kill himself.

IIg next court hearing is set for Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 fine.

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