As late as last year, the FBI ran a child pornography operation in an attempt to nab its customers. The service ran for two weeks “while attempting to identify more than 5,000 customers, according to a Seattle FBI agent’s statements to the court.”
Court records indicate the site continued to distribute child pornography online while under FBI control; the Seattle-based special agent, a specialist in online crimes against children, detailed the investigation earlier this month in a statement to the court.
The methods used in the child pornography ring depart from traditional investigations, “historically, child pornography investigations stem from tips made to law enforcement, interactions with undercover officers posing as customers or reviews of documentation seized during searches of child porn clearinghouses like the one recently raided in Nebraska.”
The Bureau seized a website referred to as “Website A” on November 16, 2012. It operated until it was shut down on December 2 and at the time, it had more than 5,600 users and 24,000 posts. “At least 10,000 photos of children being posed nude, raped or otherwise abused were broadcast through the site.”
Discussions ranged from how to avoid detection by police and “how to lure a child in my car.” Agents were unable to identify users through the service records, so the site was allowed to continue in order to gain more information about the patrons.