How Identity Theft Makes It Harder To Track Down Child Porn Buyers

from the anybody-paying-attention? dept

Several years ago, British police launched a major child porn investigation based on a list of 7,000 people who made credit-card purchases at an American child porn site. There was only one problem: a good number of those people never made the purchases, and were victims of credit-card fraud. The operation has resulted in 2,300 convictions, but another 2,000 people were investigated before charges were dropped, with many alleging they were the victims of fraud or identity theft -- something police apparently were very reluctant to consider. Claiming to be the victim of credit-card fraud seems like a fairly obvious defense somebody could offer in a case like this, but it's one that could probably be verified fairly easily. We should note that the investigative process appears to have worked here, since the BBC isn't claiming any innocent people were convicted, just that they were investigated. However, what's a bit more interesting to note is that the problem of identity theft undoubtedly made the police's job more difficult and contributed to the overall problem. The motivation for child porn buyers using stolen credit cards wasn't just to avoid paying for the material, it was to avoid detection as well. Cut off the supply of readily available credit-card information, and that task is made more difficult. Furthermore, eliminating the cases of fraud would simplify the investigation by cutting out the amount of time and resources police had to spend by investigating the innocent victims of fraud. While the problem of identity theft continues to grow, it's one that few businesses and authorities take very seriously, but it's one that has far-reaching effects.
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  • identicon
    Paul, 10 May 2007 @ 10:29am

    Identity theft makes any sort of tracking of illegal purchases difficult...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hyrulio, 10 May 2007 @ 10:33am

    SURELY in this day and age it's better to trace the IP of the origin of the order... Nope, being the British police, lets do it the WRONG way first!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2007 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      Its possible they only had the list of credit-card purchases.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      James, 10 May 2007 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      If you are behind a proxy, such as AOL has, an IP address means nothing, because you share it with hundreds of others. At least the British police does not beat up people for no reason at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2007 @ 1:59pm

      Re:

      IP can be faked. I think it is called a Proxy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2017 @ 6:46pm

      Re:

      Fraudsters spoof IP adresses. That is now precisely how the criminal child porn user, an identity and cybersecurity expert for Cisco Systems, thomas gary howard did it. He infiltrated the network, used other peoples computers to view, download and access the porn, keeping it on others computers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2017 @ 6:46pm

      Re:

      Fraudsters spoof IP adresses. That is now precisely how the criminal child porn user, an identity and cybersecurity expert for Cisco Systems, thomas gary howard did it. He infiltrated the network, used other peoples computers to view, download and access the porn, keeping it on others computers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chris (profile), 10 May 2007 @ 10:41am

    this only catches the stupid criminals

    tracking credit cards and IPs will only catch the people who shon't cover their tracks.

    this means that you will be missing out on the more savvy (and presumably more proliferate) criminals.

    my question is what happened to these other people? are they now registered sex offenders? have they suffered undue public discrace? they may not have been convicted in a court of law, but what about the court of public opinion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2007 @ 10:59am

      Re: this only catches the stupid criminals

      Smart criminals are never caught. It's kind of like the CIA, you only know about it if they screw up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chuck, 10 May 2007 @ 11:52am

      Re: this only catches the stupid criminals

      If you read the article, they talk to a man who, to avoid a public trial, plead what sounds like an equivalent to 'no contest'. He does not plead guilty, but does not fight to prove innocence, and apparently many others did the same, despite no evidence other than the credit card charges to prove they did anything at all. Also, he states that his father refuses to ever speak to him again, and that much of his family waited 3 years to speak with him again.

      Criminal charges based solely on a credit card charge should not even be possible to consider, much less carry out. Also the transaction data was provided by the credit card processing agency, not the website they are charged with using. What is to stop an illegal business from posting charges to a stolen credit card, they themselves stole the info for? Did you know that in most online credit carc portals the muchant is the one that controls the address verification? All they had to do was set it up to accept only the card number, any name, and the expiration, and they could successfully charge the card.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JT, 10 May 2007 @ 12:56pm

    That is only the half of it..

    What the BBC article and investigation fails to mention is that not only did the police fail to properly discount CC fraud, but having taken the poor sod to court used fabricated evidence to ensure convictions.

    This was all detailed by Duncan Campbell in PCPro who can demonstrate that a banner "Click here for child porn" supposedly clicked on by all Landslide purchasers would very rarely have been seen even by those who DID buy child porn. Worse still the screenshot displayed in court had been doctored by the policeto make the banner appear right at the top of the webpage, when in fact it was right at the end of a list of quite innocuous banners. This evidence was used in almost all Ore cases, along with the frequent public pronouncments that every Landslide site contained child porn (actually proven to be 12 (arguably 100) out of over 1000 sites.

    The police also frequently stated in court and in the media that no-one could end up with illegal images by accident (although this is the main way they track CP sites - by public reporting) and that those caught were a high risk of actually abusing children, when in fact less than 3% of those arrested were ever found to have abused kids. The normal pickup in previous Met, police, child porn cases was 6-7% and yet at the outset local police officers were briefed that at least 33% of Ore suspects would have been guilty of "child rape and bondage"

    To anser a previous question - Yes, a number of those who had no illegal images were successfuly prosecuted or accepted cautions and are now sex offenders. Most will have lost their jobs, and many their marriages and kids.

    In other cases a handful of potentially illegal images were found, often with no clear forensic provenance but under UK law there is no defence to this 'making' of images.

    Ore is and was a disaster. Far far more children were harmed than were ever saved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      darkbhudda, 10 May 2007 @ 10:41pm

      Re: That is only the half of it..

      Also, the banner was not even on the page for a considerable period of time because the police had uploaded the wrong version of the page. So they were convicted for a non existant button being on a page of links.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jimy wimy, 17 May 2007 @ 2:59am

    i hate pedos

    i hate all pedos kill em all fucking rip there balls of

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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