One of the most nefarious child pornography website which went by the name of “Welcome to Video” has been taken down and seized. Reportedly, the operator is being charged by the federal grand jury in the United States. According to the Department of Justice’s press release, the website hosted almost 8 terabytes of explicit content.
The website’s native operator has been identified as a South Korean man who goes by the name of Jong-Woo San who was arrested by UK and South Korean investigators on March 5, 2018. They went on to seize the server he used to operate the nefarious website. Law enforcements have also arrested around 337 suspected paedophiles from 23 states. 53 suspects were arrested from the US while the rest have been arrested from Brazil, Czech Republic, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, the UAE, and other countries. 23 children of various nationalities were rescued by the FBI, the children belonged to the countries like the USA, the UK and Spain. The children we actively abused by the site users.
This crackdown on the website is a result of a joint investigation undertaken by law enforcement teams around the world. According to General Brian A. Benczkowski, it was a part of large scale investigations against child predators.
“Darknet sites that profit from the sexual exploitation of children are among the vilest and reprehensible forms of criminal behaviour. This Administration will not allow child predators to use lawless online spaces as a shield. Today’s announcement demonstrates that the Department of Justice remains firmly committed to working closely with our partners in South Korea and around the world to rescue child victims and bring to justice the perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes,” added Benczkowski.
The prime suspect, Son is charged with 9 counts including 2 counts of child porn content, 1 count of advertising child content and finally, 3 counts of money laundering.
How did Feds initiate the Crackdown?
The feds used Chanalysis software to track down Bitcoin payments which were made the website using blockchain and eventually, find the operators. Son, the site administrator himself made their job easier by using bad opsec which means that he ran payments through a US-based bitcoin exchange using his real name, e-mail address, and phone number.
The press release from Department of Justice reveals that the site has been active since June 2015 and the most disturbing part is that until 2018 the website hosted a quarter of million videos which depicted child abuse on varying levels. The content found on the website is still being analysed by The National Centre for Child Abuse and Exploitation. As of now, only 45% of the videos have been analysed and have been identified to be unique to the website.
How did the website operate and what kind of content was on it?
Users of the website had downloaded around 8TB of illegal explicit content and the users paid around 350$ in BTC for three-month unlimited access to the website. The content consisted of “prepubescent children, toddlers, and infants engaged in sexual conduct,” Jesse Liu, a federal prosecutor stated that this kind of seizure is one of its kind in terms of the sheer abundance of content.