Fake website RentAHitman.com helps FBI catch U.S. soldier who applied for a job as an assassin

A man in a hooded top carried a bag down a flight of stairs.
The FBI arrested Josiah Garcia, a Tennessee air national guardsman, after he allegedly approached RentAHitman.com for work.
Lorado/Getty Images

An air guardsman who told an undercover FBI agent he was “excited” to begin his job as a professional hitman is now facing up to 10 years in prison, having allegedly accepted a $5,000 job to kill a fictional target.

Josiah Garcia, a Tennessee air national guardsman, was arrested on April 12 after being accused of turning to parody website RentAHitman.com looking for work.

The 21-year-old is said to have submitted an employment inquiry to the website on Feb. 16, 2023, not realizing that the murder-for-hire services platform is actually fake. The website claims to have 17,985 U.S.-based “field operatives” who can “handle any delicate situation with precision and efficiency, while ensuring 100% compliance with the Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964 (HIPPA).”

Unaware that the site—which also “guarantees 100% satisfaction or your money back”—is a spoof, Garcia highlighted he had “military experience and rifle expertise” and requested an in-depth job description, according to legal documents seen by Fortune.

The affidavit claims that just a day later Garcia again contacted the website saying he was “looking for employment,” adding his home address and date of birth to his submission.

RentAHitman.com was first created in 2005 to advertise a cybersecurity company. The business never took off, so the website’s administrator rebranded it to a parody site which subsequently received murder-for-hire requests.

Since then the website—which describes itself as a “point and click solution”—has added fake testimonials from bosses who had “disgruntled employees” dealt with, and a woman who is once again “single and ready to mingle” after the site got rid of her cheating husband.

On Feb. 18, the supposed CEO of RentAHitman, Guido Fanelli, responded to Garcia asking for a resume, a headshot, and a photo of the perpetrator’s identification—which Garcia subsequently provided.

Claiming to have earned the nickname Reaper for his “military experience and marksmanship,” Garcia revealed he had been employed in the Air National Guard from July 2021 until the present—according to the affidavit.

‘Put me in coach’

The self-proclaimed “marksman expert” wrote to the website again on Feb. 20, adding his reasons for wanting the job: “Im looking for a job, that pays well, related to my military experience (Shooting and Killing the marked target) so I can support my kid on the way. What can I say, I enjoy doing what I do, so if I can find a job that is similar to it, (such as this one) put me in coach!”

Garcia continued to message the site before the website owner responded—at the direction of the FBI, the documents added—that a field coordinator would “be in touch.”

Phone calls between the FBI and an unknowing Garcia happened in early April, when the latter was told that speaking to the company wasn’t a crime but carrying out the work was.

Garcia allegedly said he was aware that working as a hitman was a crime but simply asked how soon he could start and what the level of pay was.

He later reportedly added he preferred to shoot people from a distance, and added if “it’s possible and in [his] means to do so” he would be comfortable torturing victims or taking trophies such as their ears or fingers.

Garcia felt that civilian law enforcement wasn’t “for [him],” he said, allegedly explaining: “I wanted something more exciting. I started searching the web and then I found this, so here I am.”

The meetup

On April 6 Garcia met at a bar near Nashville with someone he believed was a field officer for the company but who was actually an undercover FBI agent.

During the conversation, the agent told Garcia he could walk away from the project at any time, to which he reportedly responded: “I’ve been looking into this for some time now. I was looking for a way to make good money.”

Garcia was told that if he hypothetically were to kill 50 people he could earn a large income, to which he responded: “That’s rookie numbers for the Reaper.” He later asked: “My only question is when can I start? I’m very excited.”

On April 12, Garcia met with the undercover officer at a park in Hendersonville, Tenn., and was given his first “job”—which paid $5,000—killing a fictional husband who had abused his wife.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Tennessee, during the meeting Garcia agreed to the terms of the murder arrangement and then “asked the agent if he needed to provide a photograph of the dead body.”

Garcia was later arrested by the FBI.

After the arrest

Following his arrest Garcia told the FBI he was looking for work because his family was struggling to pay rent.

He added on April 7 he had been hired by a cleaning company and had been due to start training on April 10. The meeting with the RentAHitman staffer, he insisted, was to tell them he had changed his mind and didn’t want to do the work any longer.

Garcia said he was going to tell the officer this when he had got back into his car and was planning on leaving the money—the first half of the $5,000 payment—on the curb for the “field officer” to retrieve.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office adds: “If convicted, Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison.

“The charge is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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