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‘Welcome to Video’ Seized

On the 16th of October 2019, the child pornography platform ‘Welcome to Video’ was seized. Investigators have seized around eight (8) terabytes of data, including about 250,000 child pornography videos. According to investigators, almost half of the pictures and videos had never appeared on the internet before. The platform had around one million Bitcoin addresses registered. This could mean that that the platform had between 350,000 and 500,000 registered users. 

The website's upload page (above) included a message telling users not to upload adult porn

337 site users residing in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State and Washington, D.C. as well as the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Brazil and Australia have been arrested and charged.

Crackdown

Non-registered users could view thumbnails of the videos on the platform, but to download or stream the related videos, the user had to be registered and have ‘Points’. Points were the on-site currency for purchasing this illegal material. Users bought points via Bitcoin. The user could also earn points by uploading a unique video, or having a friend sign up using the user’s referral code.

On multiple occasions, including September 28, 2017 and February 23, 2018, federal agents made payments on the platform. Within 48 hours, the money had been moved to another Bitcoin wallet. The wallet was registered to Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency trading platforms available.

Further research and questioning resulted in finding the wallet owner – Jong Woo Son. Coinbase requires the user to run through a process called KYC – ‘Know your customer’. Information such as the user’s name, place of residence, email address and phone number are confirmed and stored.

This was enough to give law enforcement a no-knock warrant to raid Mr. Son’s residence. One server was confiscated, containing 8 terabyte of child pornography. Further, log files indicating that more than one million videos had been downloaded from the site were found.

The raid was conducted by US IRS-CI, US HSI, UK NCA, and the South Korean National Police. By comparing the hashes of these videos to the collection at NCMEC (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), they found that 45% of these videos had never been seen before.

A larger percentage of the users were creating videos. The United States has indicted Jong Woo Son, but he is already serving an 18-month sentence for charges brought in South Korea. Below you will find the indictment.

Suspected operator comes from South Korea and is 23 years old

The alleged operator of the website, the 23-year-old South Korean Jong Woo Son, has been indicted by US Justice in nine counts. Investigators have just announced the crackdown on the site, leaving time for further investigation and arrest. The 337 arrested users of the platform were reportedly from the United States and, among others, from Great Britain, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Spain and Brazil. 

Complaint for Forfeiture

Screenshot of Webpage

User Identities @ Welcome To Video

  • Charles Wunderlich, 34, of Hot Springs, California, was charged in the District of Columbia with conspiracy to distribute child pornography;
  • Brian James LaPrath, 34, of San Diego, California, was arrested in the District of Columbia, for international money laundering; and was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release;
  • Ernest Wagner, 70, of Federal Way, Washington, was arrested and charged in the District of Columbia with conspiracy to distribute child pornography;
  • Vincent Galarzo, 28, of Glendale, New York, was arrested and charged in the District of Columbia with conspiracy to distribute child pornography;
  • Michael Ezeagbor, 22, of Pflugerville, Texas, was arrested and charged in the District of Columbia with conspiracy to distribute child pornography;
  • Nicholas Stengel, 45, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography and money laundering and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release;
  • Eryk Mark Chamberlin, 25, of Worcester, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to possession  of child pornography and is pending sentencing;
  • Jairo Flores, 30, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in the District of Massachusetts to receipt and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to serve five years in prison followed by five years of supervised release;
  • Billy Penaloza, 29, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in the District of Massachusetts to possession and receipt of child pornography. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2019;
  • Michael Armstrong, 35, of Randolph, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in the District of Massachusetts, to receipt and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to serve five years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.  Restitution will be determined at a future date;
  • Al Ramadhanu Soedomo, 28, of Lynn, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced in the District of Massachusetts (Boston), to serve 12 months and one day followed by five years of supervised release;
  • Phillip Sungmin Hong, 24, of Sharon, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in the District of Massachusetts (Boston), to receipt and possession of child pornography and is pending sentencing;
  • Eliseo Arteaga Jr., 28, of Mesquite, Texas, pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Texas to possession of prepubescent child pornography. He is pending sentencing;
  • Richard Nikolai Gratkowski, 40, of San Antonio, Texas, a former HSI special agent, was arrested in the Western District of Texas.  Gratkowski pleaded guilty to the indictment charging one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of access with intent to view child pornography.  Gratkowski was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution to seven victims and a $10,000 assessment;
  • Paul Casey Whipple, 35, of Hondo, Texas, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent, was arrested in the Western District of Texas, on charges of sexual exploitation of children/minors, production, distribution, and possession of child pornography.  Whipple remains in custody awaiting trial in San Antonio;
  • Michael Lawson, 36, of Midland, Georgia, was arrested in the Middle District of Georgia on charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography.  He was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release following his plea to a superseding information charging him with one count of receipt of child pornography;
  • Kevin Christopher Eagan, 39, of Brookhaven, Georgia, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in the Northern District of Georgia;
  • Casey Santioius Head, 37, of Griffin, Georgia, was indicted in the Northern District of Georgia for distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography;
  • Andrew C. Chu, 28, of Garwood, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with receipt of child pornography. Those charges remain pending;
  • Nader Hamdi Ahmed, 29 of Jersey City, New Jersey, was arrested in the District of New Jersey, for sexual exploitation or other abuse of children.  Ahmed pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of distribution of child pornography.  He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1, 2019;
  • Jeffrey Lee Harris, 32, of Pickens, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of South Carolina for producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography;
  • Laine Ormand Clark Jr., 27, of Conway, South Carolina, was arrested and charged in U.S. District Court in South Carolina Division for sexual possession of child pornography;
  • Jack R. Dove III, 38, of Lakeland, Florida, was arrested in the Middle District of Florida for knowingly receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
  • Michael Matthew White, 39, of Miami Beach, Florida, was arrested in the Southern District of Florida for coercion and enticement;
  • Nikolas Bennion Bradshaw, 24, of Bountiful, Utah, was arrested in the State of Utah, and charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and was sentenced to time served with 91 days in jail followed by probation;
  • Michael Don Gibbs, 37, of Holladay, Utah, was charged in the District of Utah with receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography;
  • Ammar Atef H. Alahdali, 22, of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to serve five years in prison and ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution;
  • Mark Lindsay Rohrer, 38, of West Hartford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in the District of Connecticut to receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release;
  • Eugene Edward Jung, 47, of San Francisco, California, was indicted in the Northern District of California on possession of child pornography and receipt of child pornography;
  • James Daosaeng, 25, of Springdale, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced in the Western District of Arkansas (Fayetteville) to serve 97 months in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release;
  • Alex Daniel Paxton, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested and indicted in Franklin County Ohio Court of Common Pleas for pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor;
  • Don Edward Pannell, 32, of Harvey, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Louisiana for receipt of child pornography. He is pending sentencing;
  • Ryan Thomas Carver, 29, of Huntsville, Alabama, was arrested and charged under Alabama State Law.  He was charged federally in the Northern District of Alabama with possession of child pornography. His case is pending in Huntsville, Alabama;
  • Alexander Buckley, 28, of the United Kingdom, pleaded guilty to 10 offences in the UK of possession and distribution of indecent images of children, possession of extreme and prohibited images and possession of a class A drug.  He was sentenced to serve 40 months in prison for the distribution of indecent images and possession of class A drugs. Buckley is also subject to an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order;
  • Kyle Fox, 26, of the United Kingdom, pleaded guilty to 22 counts including rape, sexual assault, and sharing indecent images, and was sentenced to serve 22 years in prison; and
  • Mohammed Almaker, 26, of Fort Collins, Colorado, was arrested in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), charged with KSA Law involving the endangerment of children.  He is awaiting judicial proceedings in furtherance of criminal charges.

The cases are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zia M. Faruqui, Lindsay Suttenberg, and Youli Lee, Paralegal Specialists Brian Rickers and Diane Brashears, Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, and Records Examiner Chad Byron of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.  Additional assistance has been provided by Deputy Chief Keith Becker and Trial Attorney James E. Burke IV of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and former U.S. Attorney’s Office Paralegal Specialists Toni Anne Donato and Ty Eaton.

Mugshots

Dr Matthew Falder

Dr Matthew Falder


Dr Matthew Falder's computer is pictured above in an evidence photo

Dr Matthew Falder’s computer is pictured above in an evidence photo


Kyle Fox

Kyle Fox

Nikolas Bennion Bradshaw, 24, of Bountiful, was named by federal prosecutors Wednesday as users of "Welcome to Video."

Nikolas Bennion Bradshaw, 24, of Bountiful, was named by federal prosecutors Wednesday as users of “Welcome to Video.”


Michael Don Gibbs, 37, of Holladay, was named by federal prosecutors as users of "Welcome to Video."

Michael Don Gibbs, 37, of Holladay, was named by federal prosecutors as users of “Welcome to Video.”

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