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Child Porn Darknet Sites Surge with Crypto-Payments as Korean Police Hunt "Nth Room" Clientele

Lucas Cacioli   Apr 22, 2020 08:45 2 Min Read


The use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum has become the preferred payment for internet based human trafficking and sexual exploitation services, which include blackmail porn and the sexual assault of minors and children, according to forensics firm Chainalysis.

In a blog post on April 21, Chainalysis reported an alarming and rising trend of cryptocurrency transactions being linked to coin wallets that are connected to human trafficking and slavery as well as Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

The forensics firm reveals that over the course of 2019 they were able to track nearly $1 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum payments to addresses associated with CSAM providers which represent a, “32% increase over 2018, which in turn saw a 212% increase over 2017.

Although a horrific increase, these transactions actually represent an incredibly small portion of the cryptocurrency market and Chainalysis attributes most of the increase to the rise of cryptocurrency adoption rather than an increased demand for child and blackmail porn.

Child Sexploitation and Cryptocurrency

The rise in CSAM transacted material has occurred despite global crackdowns by lay enforcement agencies. The report highlights the takedown of the Welcome to Video child porn operation which had been operating on the darknet and had collected over 400 bitcoins during its three-year operation.

The sexual assault of children is considered vile almost unananimously and even on the darknet, CSAM sites and the sale of such material is explicitly banned by the majority of markets.

 

Total Yearly Child Porn Value.jpg

Source: Chainalysis Insights

While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether are untraceable to more than a random wallet address, in the case of Welcome to Video darknet site, many users paying for CSAM made the initial purchase for the crypto used via fiat and credit-card on ramps which allowed law enforcement to track and catch up with them.

South Korean Nth Room and CSAM transactions

Making national headlines in South Korea last month was the arrest and public exhibition of “Nth Rooms” blackmail porn site ringleader Cho Ju-bin.

The sexual exploitation of underage school-going girls in South Korea has been happening for years in the “Nth Rooms” incident. Notably, they would be filmed undertaking violent self-harm and sexual acts, and the videos taken were made available via Telegram chat rooms after members made crypto payments. The South Korean national community was so reviled they demanded Cho Ju-bin be named and paraded through the streets to face the public.

The police are now on the hunt for the site's users and are being aided by the four primary crypto exchanges in South Korea, namely Coinone, Korbit, Bithumb, and Upbit

South Korea CSAM.jpg

Source: Chainalysis Insight

On a review of payments to CSAM sites in a single South Korea region across a 7 year span, Chainalysis identified that most payments were made via exchanges during the late hours of the night and would usually transfer payments in small amounts of less than $50 USD to not raise attention

 


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