A bitcoin-based crowd-funding website has raised almost £50,000 as a bounty to anyone willing to assassinate chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke.
The website, called simply Asassination Market, is collecting bounties to place on the heads of some of the world's most influential figures, offering tens of thousands of pounds to the person to carry out an assassination.
Along with Bernanke, the webite is collecting bounties for Jyrki Tapani Katainen, the prime minister of Finland; Francois Hollande, president of France; Barack Obama, president of the US, James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, and Keith Alexander, head of the NSA.
However it is Bernanke who has attracted by far the highest amount of bitcoin donations, currently standing at 124.14, which at today's market value is just over £48,500. The next highest bounty is for Obama, which is 40.26 bitcoins (£15,740) followed by Alexander with 10.49 bitcoins (£4,100) and Clapper on 1.97 bitcoins (£770).
Both Katainen and Hollande are both on just one bitcoin each (roughly £390). The website also allows members to suggest new targets to add to the "dead pool."
The anonymous operator of the website has revealed that Edward's Snowden's revelations about widespread, mass surveillance by western governments led him to create a crowd-funding website looking for people to kill high profile figures.
"Being forced to alter my every happy memory during internet activity, every intimate moment over the phone with my loved ones, to also include some of the people I hate the most listening in, analysing the conversation, was the inspiration I needed to embark on this task," Kuwabatake Sanjuro said in an interview with Forbes.
"After about a week of muttering 'they must all die' under my breath every time I opened a newspaper or turned on the television, I decided something had to be done. This is my contribution to the cause."
The website is only accessible through the Tor network - also known as the deep or dark web - which anonymises users' locations and identities. It is the same network on which the infamous online drugs bazaar Silk Road operated before being shut down earlier this year by the FBI.
In order to claim the bounty, the killer has to create an encrypted text file prior to the assassination and send it to Sanjuro. The text file will include the date on which the assassination will be carried out, and should one of the targets actually die, Sanjuro will be able to check the date before handing over the bounty.
While Sanjuro says he created the website in reaction to the government spying campaigns, he is also planning on taking a commission of 1% of any bounty collected.
Change the world
The mysterious website operator has big ambitions for in relation to the influence he believes Assassination Market could have:
"I believe it will change the world for the better. Thanks to this system, a world without wars, dragnet panopticon-style surveillance, nuclear weapons, armies, repression, money manipulation, and limits to trade is firmly within our grasp for but a few bitcoins per person. I also believe that as soon as a few politicians gets offed and they realize they've lost the war on privacy, the killings can stop and we can transition to a phase of peace, privacy and laissez-faire."
As well as operating on the Tor network, Assassination Market's donations are made using bitcoin which are very difficult to trace back to their owners, particularly if those donating use an anonymising service as Sanjuro advises them to.
The FBI would not comment about whether or not it was investigating the website.
However following its successful closure of the Silk Road website, it is very likely the FBI is well aware of Assassination Market.