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article image1,500 pedophiles busted by FBI hacking the Dark Web

By Micki Hogan     Jan 8, 2016 in Crime
In perhaps the largest pedophile sting in history, the FBI hacked the Dark Web server to infiltrate and investigate 1,500 pedophiles using the secret website named the Playpen.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations shutdown what has been called the world's largest pedophile ring. The Dark Web bulletin board site named "Playpen" launched in August 2014 and within one year had garnered 215,000 accounts with 11,000 unique visitors each week.
The FBI began its investigation by hacking the Dark Web then infiltrating the pedophile site. Instead of immediately closing down the site the FBI continued to hack the server and run it undercover, allowing pedophiles to unknowingly expose their information and lead investigators to the criminal activity that stemmed from the use of the website, according to an article posted by Engadget.
It has never been a secret that the FBI has been using hacking techniques in criminal investigations involving the Internet but this case has had unprecedented results as reported by The Motherboard. According to the report over 1,000 computers were monitored in the investigation.
The Playpen allowed any user to upload any image they wished without fears of being reported or flagged. The website reached its peak in February but little did users of the site know the FBI was already a month into the investigation. The term used by the agency regarding this type of investigation is the network investigative technique or NIT.
One of the charges filed involved a Vancouver teacher, Jay Michaud. His federal public defender, Colin Fieman, had this to say about the NIT investigation:
Fifteen-hundred or so of these cases are going to end up getting filed out of the same, underlying investigation. The estimate comes from what “we've seen in terms of the discovery. There will probably be an escalating stream of these [cases] in the next six months or so. There is going to be a lot in the pipeline.
Fieman has three cases pending in his defenders office, he said in an interview to Motherboard. According to court documents, charges have also been filed against defendants in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Utah, and Wisconsin. All of the defendants in the on going cases are being tight lipped about the charges and are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
There have been several different types of NIT investigations where hacking was involved. From the locating of a wanted criminal by pinging an IP address to investigating the threats of bombs to the largest child pornography sting of all time, the FBI certainly has been busy when it comes to Internet crimes.
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