The largest child abuse ring that was dismantled recently by tracing bitcoin payments from users to the site operators. The site, “Welcome to Video” was taken down by the U.S and Customs Enforcement Agency in cooperation with international authorities.
A total of 337 site users in the US, Europe and the around the world were traced and arrested by following the trail left by the bitcoin blockchain, which shows that bitcoin is far from anonymous.
“Through the sophisticated tracing of bitcoin transactions, IRS-CI special agents were able to determine the location of the Darknet server, identify the administrator of the website and ultimately track down the website server’s physical location in South Korea,” said IRS-CI Chief Don Fort.
The website reportedly offered to sell videos in exchange for bitcoin payments and is claimed to be the first site monetized with a pseudonymous cryptocurrency.
At the site’s peak, it boasted an extensive database of more than one million unique bitcoin addresses which, according to ICE, meant that the site had the capacity to service at least one million users purchasing child abuse material with bitcoin.
A forfeiture was recently unsealed that identifies 24 individuals who were allegedly financing the website. The forfeiture intends to recover the funds and return the monies to the victims.