South Korean Administration Arrested Feds Shut Down The largest Dark Web Child Abuse Site
Today the Department of Justice of the United States said that they had arrested hundreds of criminals during a global attack after downgrading the largest known children’s porn site in the dark web and tracking bitcoin payments.
With an international coalition of law enforcement agencies, federal officials arrested Jong Woo Son of South Korea, a 23-year-old child sexual abuse site operator, and 337 suspects who are suspected of knowingly using the site.
It worked between June 2015 and March 2018 and hosted over 250,000 sexual exploitation videos of children, children and adults, comprising about more than 8 TB of information, “Welcome to Video.”
The Welcome to Video website has more than 250,000 unique videos according to a press release released by DoJ, and almost 45 percent of the videos feature new images that were not recognized before.
The operation also saved at least 23 children residing in the USA, Spain and the United Kingdom who were actively abused by Welcome to Video users on the encrypted Tor network.
Website Hosted from the admin’s bedroom on a computer
Just by analyzing the HTML website source code in the app, the initial IP addresses of the server on which the page was hosted have been exposed.
The IP addresses were then tracked back to a server in Jong Woo Son’s house in South Korea in the site bedroom.
The research on the confiscated server showed that the website had a capacity of at least one million users and more than one million unique bitcoin addresses used to receive payments from visitors.
In February 2018, the United States issued a warrant for Son’s arrest. The South Korean federal authorities then detained him on 5 March 2018 and seized the Welcome to Video file.
While Son is now serving an 18-month sentence in South Korea, just yesterday a federal jury at Washington DC unsealed a 9-count charge against him with the U.S. authorities seeking his extradition before the courts.
“Websites benefiting from child sexual exploitation are amongst the most vile, reprehensible types of crime,” said Deputy Prosecutor General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
The today announcement is shown that the Department of Justice is strongly committed to working closely with our allies in South Korea and around the world to rescue the victims of child abuse and bring the perpetrators of these abominable crimes to justice.
Over 337 clients of the website have also been charged and prosecuted
Users of the website, from the U.S., UK, South Korea, Canada, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Brazil and Australia, can download new videos, referrals to new users, or pay for them in Bitcoin crypto-currency “supposedly anonymous.”
According to the indictment, at least two former federal enforcement officers allegedly participated in the child porn site— Paul Casey Whipple, 35 years-old United States. Border Patrol agent and former HSI agent Richard Nikolai Gratkowski.
Furthermore, two users of the Welcome to the Video dark market committed suicide after search warrants were executed.
“Welcome to Video provided these videos for sale using bitcoin cryptocurrency. Usually, this kind of websites give users a forum to exchange these images. This Darknet website is one of the first of its kind to monetize children’s videos with bitcoin,” said the press release.
The platform received at least 420 BTC during its 3 years of operation, which amounted to $370,000 at the time the site has been deleted, through at least 7300 transactions.