WASHINGTON : ''Welcome To Video'' is one of the first websites to monetize child pornography using bitcoin, which allows users to hide their identities during financial transactions.

Users were able to redeem the digital currency in return for ''points'' that they could spend downloading video or buying all-you-can-watch ''VIP'' accounts.

Points could also be earned by uploading fresh child pornography.

THE suspects were using advanced technology to keep users identity secret. Investigations led to rescue of 23 underage victims in US, UK and Spain.

Washington : Law--enforcement officials in several countries said on Wednesday they had arrested hundreds of people around the world for participating in a child-pornography network that used sophisticated technology to hide its users identities.

Officials from the United States, Britain and South Korea described the network as one of the largest  child pornography operations they had encountered to date.

Called Welcome To Video, the South Korean-based website relied on the bitcoin cryptocurrency to sell 250,000 videos depicting child sexual abuse, authorities said.

The site's operator a South Korean named Jong Woo Son, and 337 users in 12 different countries, have been charged so far, authorities said.

Son, currently serving an 18-month sentence in South Korea, also was indicted on federal charges in Washington.

Several other people charged in the case have already been convicted and are serving prison sentences up to 15 years, according to the US Justice Department.

The investigation has led to the rescue of at least 23 underage victims in the United States, Britain and Spain who were being actively abused by users of the site, the Justice Department said.

Many children in the videos have not yet been identified.

The Justice Department said that this site collected at least $370,000 worth of Bitcoin  before it was taken down in March 2018 and that the currency was laundered through three unnamed digital currency exchanges.

Darkest websites are designed to be all-but impossible to locate online, but the Justice department alleged that Welcome To Video's operator had accidentally revealed its Severs South Korean Internet protocol address.

An investigation subsequently linked the address to Jong Woo Son.  [Reuters]


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