Credit: Screen grab
Feds Takedown ‘World’s Largest’ Child Porn Ring

Feds Takedown ‘World’s Largest’ Child Porn Ring

WASHINGTON – Law-enforcement officials in several countries said on Wednesday they had arrested hundreds of people around the world for participating in a child-pornography network that used sophisticated technology to hide its users’ identities.

Officials from the United States, Britain and South Korea described the network as one of the largest child-pornography operations they had encountered to date.

Called Welcome To Video, the South Korean-based website relied on the bitcoin cryptocurrency to sell 250,000 videos depicting child sexual abuse, authorities said.

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The site’s operator, a South Korean named Jong Woo Son, and 337 users in 12 different countries, have been charged so far, authorities said.

Son, currently serving an 18-month sentence in South Korea, also was indicted on federal charges in Washington.

Several other people charged in the case have already been convicted and are serving prison sentences of up to 15 years, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The investigation has led to the rescue of at least 23 underage victims in the United States, Britain and Spain who were being actively abused by users of the site, the Justice Department said. Many children in the videos have not yet been identified.


Welcome To Video is one of the first websites to monetize child pornography using bitcoin, which allows users to hide their identities during financial transactions.

Users were able to redeem the digital currency in return for “points” that they could spend downloading videos or buying all-you-can watch “VIP” accounts. Points could also be earned by uploading fresh child pornography.

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The Justice Department said the site collected at least $370,000 worth of bitcoin before it was taken down in March 2018 and that the currency was laundered through three unnamed digital currency exchanges.

Darknet websites are designed to be all-but-impossible to locate online, but the Justice Department alleged that Welcome To Video’s operator had accidentally revealed its server’s South Korean internet protocol address. An investigation subsequently linked the address to Jong Woo Son.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan.)

Cover image: A laughably stereotypical image of a computer hacker. (Screen grab)



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