Authorities Bust 'Largest Darknet Child Pornography Website' That Offered Videos Using Bitcoin

Nellie Chapman
October 18, 2019

The Department of Justice said it could trace users of the site via bitcoin transactions, bitcoin being the cryptocurrency of choice of users of the site.

"Darknet sites that profit from the sexual exploitation of children are among the most vile and reprehensible forms of criminal behaviour", said US Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski.

According to the report, the performance caused the rescue of 23 minor victims living in the USA, Spain and the United Kingdom, who were actively abused by the users of the website.

The takedown, led by various USA law enforcement agencies and the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with authorities in the U.K., South Korea and other countries, dates back to 2018.

The site in question is "Welcome to Video", which operated from June 2015 until March 2018 and hosted over 250,000 sexual exploitation videos of children, toddlers, and infants, which comprised of roughly over 8TB of data.

The site's vast library - almost half of it consisting of images never seen before by law enforcement - is an illustration of what authorities say is an explosion of sexual abuse content online. Forty-five percent of the videos now analyzed contain new images that have not been previously known to exist.

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Son has also been charged and detained in South Korea and is now in custody, serving his sentence in South Korea.

On Wednesday (16 October), a 23-year-old South Korean man identified as Jong Woo Son was named by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) as the administrator of a website called Welcome to Video. More than 90 people were in the United States. Dark web sites such as "Welcome To Video" are created to be impossible to find online and it is not yet clear how the authorities managed to find and take down the site.

The U.S. Justice Department gave a different explanation, saying that Welcome To Video's site was leaking its server's South Korean internet protocol address to the open internet.

Don Fort, chief of IRS criminal investigations in the United States said that the agency managed to trace the purchasers of exploitative images by de-anonymising Tor browsing data and cryptocurrency transactions.

The owner of the Welcome the Video website was arrested for money laundering and child pornography charges. "This government won't permit child predators to utilize lawless online spaces as a defense".

"However, today's indictment sends a strong message to criminals that no matter how sophisticated the technology or how widespread the network, child exploitation will not be tolerated in the United States". It is a reminder to criminals that their Bitcoin transactions are not foolproof.

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