Big Win Against Dark Web Child Abuse Site
As part of a global crackdown, the United States Department of Justice have arrested hundreds in connection with the largest known child porn site, ‘Welcome to Video’.
The international coalition of federal officers and law enforcement agencies have arrested the site administrator 23-year-old Jong Woo Son, of ‘Welcome to Video’, a site hosting 8 terabytes of child porn. Internationally, a further 337 people have been arrested in 38 countries and 28 children rescued in the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom according to the Department of Justice. All these children are victims of ‘Welcome to Video’ users.
"Welcome to Video," was a live site for three years between June 2015 and March 2018 and hosted over a quarter of a million sexual exploitative videos of minors, (including, toddlers, and infants), just under half of these images were completely new.
Members of the site paid roughly $350 in Bitcoin for a six-month, unlimited download membership to the website. "Welcome To Video” offered videos for sale in bitcoin. Throughout the years of operation, the site received 420 BTC, approximately $370,000 by the time the site was taken down, through 7300 transactions.
As glum as the reality is when it comes to online predators, its nice to know that we are putting some of them out of action. For anyone that thinks that some of the users may have stumbled on it accidently, sorry, the upload page on the porn site unhappily states ‘Do not upload adult porn’.
How did they catch them?
The investigation, a collaboration of the DOJ, ICE, the IRS, and their equals in the U.K and South Korea pursued users of the site because “virtual currency exchanges are required by US law to collect identifying information to verify identities.”
As part of an extensive sting operation, the DOJ went undercover and sent Bitcoin to the website’s Bitcoin wallet, several times. In quite a simple security blunder, the site administrator, Son had been running payments through an US-based Bitcoin under his real name, cell and email address, making the investigation at least at the start relatively easy.
The DOJ was able to track Jong Woo Son when he cashed out to a bank account through a Bitcoin exchange. The DOJ did not specify which Bitcoin exchange was involved.
By just reviewing the HTML source code of the site, investigators found out the original IP addresses (and therefore the computer) of the server on which the site was hosted. This traced back to a server located inside the bedroom of the site admin, Jong Woo Son's in South Korea.
Federal authorities in South Korea arrested Son in South Korea, on March 5,2018. The seized server provided over one million unique bitcoin addresses used to receive payments from visitors.
Though Son is currently serving a short 18-month sentence in South Korea, the US is looking to pursue a 9-count indictment against him and are seeking extradition. The United States is likely to make Mr. Son endure a much harsher sentence.