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Mr Dark's Depraved Rape and Child Porn Site Brought Down by Blockchain Analysis

Lucas Cacioli   Mar 13, 2020 12:00 3 Min Read


A Dutch national has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for operating a depraved and violent pornography site featuring minors and sexual assault. Michael Rahim Mohammed, known as Mr Dark, allegedly profited around $1.6 million which was paid in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The ‘Dark Scandals’ website hosted thousands of videos and images that were promoted as being “real” acts of sexual violence including blackmail and rape. The site operated on both the darknet and the clearnet since 2012.

Cryptocurrency Payments

According to the announcement by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the illegal content was distributed to clients via downloadable email packs. Users could either pay with Bitcoin or Ethereum, or they could add their own content to the site’s library.

Mohammed was the administrator of the site and received 188 Bitcoin and 27 Ether among the 1650 deposits made to Dark Scandals. He also set very specific rules prohibiting “fake” or simulated violence insisting that the content be “real rape” and preferably homemade.

“The obscene material distributed by Michael Rahim Mohammed victimizes innocent and vulnerable people in our communities,” said Alysa Erichs, acting executive associate director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these crimes, using all available resources to ensure that additional vulnerable victims aren’t exploited.”

Cryptocurrency was the sites main source of financial support, however,the blockchain’s supporting the transactions recorded all the payment details of the crime which allowed law enforcement agencies to track them.

303 Bitcoin and Ethereum accounts that paid cryptocurrency to the site using Chainalysis transaction tracing software were tracked by a combination of agencies. A forfeiture complaint seeks to recover the funds and offer them to the victims.

Blockchain Analysis

The forfeiture complaint notes that many of the cryptocurrency accounts tracked had incomplete KYC verification and had only been used for one transaction.

A thorough blockchain analysis of the accounts revealed further illicit transactions. From the complaint, “Law enforcement observed numerous payments from these accounts to other darknet markets, which were flagged by blockchain analytics companies, enabling law enforcement to identify illicit transactions.”

Michael Rahim Mohammed has been officially charged with the crimes of distribution and production of child pornography, engaging in the selling and transferring of obscene material, and laundering of monetary instruments.

Trustless Not Anonymous

When the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), issued new guidelines on how digital assets should be regulated last June, there was a lot of pushback from the crypto community and exchanges regarding the need for know you customer (KYC) compliance with many highlighting that cryptocurrency privacy was over.

In an interview with Blockchain.News, Matthew Unger, CEO of IComply investor services addressed the concerns on privacy saying,”While we want to be free, money has a direct impact on people’s lives. The reality is that crypto is often used in the child sex trade, to launder massive amounts of money, and to undermine the free democratic process in favor of corruption and foreign influence, such as was the case in the 2016 U.S. election (re: the Mueller report). We’ve seen even more extreme values on privacy in the last few years. While some people say privacy is more important, these people limit the current and potential uses of crypto in the financial system.”

According to Unger, many are missing the point of cryptocurrency as he says, "The original objective of this technology is not to be anonymous—it’s to be trustless. You don’t need to know anything about an individual to know that you can trade with them and that their money is real. What the tech can’t do is tell you if the crypto is stolen, was used to harm someone, or was used to facilitate acts of terrorism, crime, or other illicit or harmful activities. In order to use crypto in good conscience, it’s prudent that users deal with people that they have vetted.”

 

 

Image via Shutterstock

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