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Tracing Bitcoin Payments Helped Revealing Largest Child Porn Site

By on October 17th, 2019 at 9:04 am UTC · 4 min read

Law enforcement was able to trace payments in Bitcoin to the Darknet child porn site by following the flow of funds on the blockchain.

Bitcoin (BTC), Crimes, Cryptocurrency News, News
Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash
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Even though Governments all over the world are constantly warning people that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (especially Libra nowadays) could be dangerous for financing terrorism actions or money laundering, it seems that they all forget a base on which all cryptos are made – a blockchain. Blockchain, yes, can track your data that can then be embezzled for thousands of bad reasons but did you know that the blockchain is meant to do good actually. To track ways of everything – from bananas to worthy arts.

Well, seems U.S. and Korean authorities finally proved to all the non-believers wrong, says Bloomberg. By following Bitcoin payments (blockchain, remember) through the dark web, together with the agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation, they manage to determine the location of the Darknet server in South Korea, identified someone who was hiding under the nickname Son and found the physical location of the website. They also unmasked users hiding behind Bitcoin transactions.

What that means, explained Don Fort, chief of the division, who says they broke up one of the world’s largest markets for child pornography, a crime that is proliferating at a sick pace with the rise of cryptocurrency and encrypted online content.

The whole story was revealed on Wednesday as the U.S. unraveled charges against Jong Woo Son, 23, for whom prosecutors say operated a Darknet market that accepted Bitcoin and distributed more than 1 million sexually explicit videos involving children. Unfortunately, Son, a South Korean national, got only 18 months in prison after being convicted there.

However, since that revelation, agents shuttered the site in March 2018, and got 337 more site users around the world arrested. The users were from countries all over the world: the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and most of them (but really???) from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Of course, there are nearly two dozen U.S. states, according to U.S. authorities. The U.K. government said people in 38 countries were arrested.

The site was actually awarding users to upload videos of minors in explicit poses and the government says they rescued at least 23 minor victims in the U.S., U.K., and Spain who were being actively abused by users of the site, which operated from June 2015 until March 2018.

Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said:

“What we are here to discuss today, the sexual exploitation of children, is one of the worst forms of human evil imaginable. Children around the world are safer because of the actions taken by U.S. and foreign law enforcement to prosecute this case and recover funds for victims.”

The Darknet is known to be an encrypted online content that hides from traditional search engines. Had fostered all kinds of crimes as are narcotics trading, money laundering and child pornography, prosecutors say.

Cryptocurrency also has unfortunately been cited in a wide range of crimes in which people seek to move money anonymously around the world.

Son’s site was working under a pretty innocent name “Welcome to Video” and it contained more than 250,000 unique videos. Of those, 45% contained new images that were previously unknown, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Downing explained the site operated as a “hidden service” on the Tor network, which was hiding the location of the operator and users.

The indictment says:

“Users could join the site free with a user name and password, allowing them to download videos. They earned “points” by uploading videos and referring new users. They could buy a “VIP” account that allowed unlimited downloads for six months if they exchanged Bitcoin valued at $353 in March 2018.”

U.S. authorities publicly revealed about three dozen of the site users that were charged, including, oh yes, former federal agents and one Georgia man who actually taped his own children in his bathroom and uploaded videos of them.

There is happy news though. Authorities revealed that two users had taken their own lives after search warrants were executed.

Teuta Franjkovic
Author: Teuta Franjkovic

Experienced creative professional focusing on financial and political analysis, editing daily newspapers and news sites, economical and political journalism, consulting, PR and Marketing. Teuta’s passion is to create new opportunities and bring people together.

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