German Man Allegedly Ran a Darkweb Child Abuse Forum from His Home
A 43 year old man from Pforzheim, Germany is suspected of running a dark web child pornography forum from a server located in his home since 2015. The man has been indicted by the cybercrime department of the Mannheim public prosecutor's office. The defendant and the other members of the forum used the forum to exchange child abuse and exploitation videos.
According to reports on the indictment, the 43-year-old whose names have been withheld was arrested on March 19 following years of domestic and international investigations. In the investigations, agents of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) focused on uncovering the identity of the forum’s admin, the server’s IP address and the seizure of electronic and storage devices. Like other dark web forums, members of the child porn forum used pseudonyms to hide their identities. The investigations were also complicated by the fact that members of the forum conspired to provide the child porn videos themselves making the forum highly self-contained.
To takedown the forum the BKA was forced to partner with international law enforcement agencies. In the end, the cooperation was successful as the investigators managed to pin the IP address of the forum to an apartment in Pforzheim. The identity of the defendant who had been using a pseudonym when running the forum was also uncovered. On the morning of March 19, BKA agents raided the defendant’s apartment. The agents seized computers, cell phones, and data storage hardware. The defendant was arrested then and has been in custody since then.
The investigators did not publicize the defendant's arrest so as not to spook the other users of the forum as they continued to analyze the data in the electronic devices seized from the defendant. The investigators reportedly discovered that the forum had 33 members. The indictment, however, did not disclose if the international investigations resulted in the arrest of the other members of the forum.
The indictment also disclosed that the defendant offered computer repair and maintenance services in his neighborhood. According to his neighbors, the defendant helped the older neighbors who had problems with operating their PCs. The 43-year-old also lived alone and made it impossible for anyone to know about his life.
The defendant’s trial is set to begin on November 18 in the Pforzheim District Court. More details about the investigations and the forum will be made public in the course of the trial.