National Crime Agency
337 arrested after takedown of horrific dark web child abuse site Welcome To Video
Three-hundred and thirty-seven suspects have been arrested globally in multi-agency operations sparked by a National Crime Agency investigation into one of the UK’s worst ever child sex offenders.
The arrests were made in 38 countries including the UK, Ireland, America, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Canada.
Welcome To Video was taken down by an international taskforce set up by the NCA and included Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in America, the South Korean National Police and Germany’s Federal Criminal Police.
The site – run from South Korea – contained more than 250,000 horrific videos. Users had made more than one million downloads.
The website monetised the sexual abuse of children and was one of the first to offer sickening videos for sale using the cryptocurreny bitcoin.
In the UK, 18 investigations were developed from the intelligence and seven men have already been convicted – including one jailed for 22 years for raping a five-year-old boy and appearing on Welcome To Video sexually abusing a three-year-old girl.
The NCA uncovered Welcome To Video during its investigation into the geophysicist Dr Matthew Falder. In 2017 Falder admitted 137 offences including encouraging child rape and sharing images of a newborn baby being abused. He’s serving a 25-year jail sentence.
Officers from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) used specialist capabilities to identify that Welcome To Video was being run from South Korea by Jong Woo Son, aged 23. They also analysed cryptocurrency transactions to identify site users.
In March 2018 NCA officers travelled to South Korea and, in conjunction with IRS and HSI, advised police on their operational plan, helped with Son’s arrest and assisted with the server’s take down.
The agency’s National Targeting Centre then developed intelligence on all UK suspects, preparing profiles and briefings for NCA operational teams and UK police forces.
On 16th October, Son was charged with nine counts in the United States relating to him running the website. The South Korean national has already been convicted and jailed in his home country.
Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations, said: “Dark web child sex offenders – some of whom are the very worst offenders – cannot hide from law enforcement.
“They’re not as cloaked as they think they are, they’re not as safe as they think they are.
“The NCA is relentless in pursuing them and we have specialist capabilities, which we use for all UK law enforcement, to unmask them and help take down sites like Welcome To Video.
“I’m immensely proud of the role we played in catching some very depraved and dangerous global offenders and for beginning the work that eventually caught Jong Woo Son.”
The most heinous UK case to come from Welcome To Video resulted in Kyle Fox, aged 26, being jailed for 22 years in March this year.
Fox, from Surrey, admitted 14 charges against a five-year-old boy including seven rapes; and five charges of sexual assault against a three-year-old girl. Footage of him abusing the girl was uploaded to Welcome To Video but Fox denied posting it.
Fox’s face was not visible in the footage but the NCA’s victim identification team resolved his real-life identity.
The case illustrates what the NCA is seeing in child sexual abuse offending: increases in severity, scale and complexity.
We are seeing a direct link between viewing abuse images and contact abuse, as well as offenders using the dark web and encryption to hide their activity and identifies.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! Helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.
Latest News from
National Crime Agency
Hertfordshire man arrested on suspicion of Bounce Back Loan fraud28/10/2020 16:15:00
A 52 year old man from Hertfordshire was arrested this morning in connection with potential offences against the Bounce Back Loan scheme and other frauds.
Suspected money launderer claimed £25,000 was from under grandma’s bed in China28/10/2020 11:15:00
A woman who has been ordered to hand over more than £80,000 in a National Crime Agency investigation claimed £25,000 of it was found under her grandmother’s bed.
Kent man jailed for involvement in concealing cocaine in customised exhaust pipes26/10/2020 10:25:00
A 57-year-old man has been jailed for a conspiracy to smuggle cocaine worth nearly £3 million concealed in customised exhaust pipes which the NCA believe was destined for Northern Ireland
Charges in National Crime Agency EncroChat firearms and ammo operation22/10/2020 11:15:00
Three men have been charged and a UK national arrested in Spain on a European Arrest Warrant as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into the large scale supply and possession of firearms.
NCA appeals for help finding serial drugs trafficker20/10/2020 16:15:00
A career drugs trafficker once jailed over a plot to import more than 100kg of heroin to the UK has vanished after being arrested for new allegations.
Arrested – NCA target gangs alleged to be involved in people smuggling in small boats and lorries19/10/2020 15:43:00
National Crime Agency investigators have made a series of arrests as part of two separate investigations targeting suspected people smugglers.
Iranian who ran payment platform for cyber criminals arrested in UK19/10/2020 14:15:00
An Iranian national who ran a financial services company designed to circumvent financial sanctions on Iran, has been sentenced in the US after being arrested and extradited from the UK.
Three arrests as NCA uncovers million pound cannabis farm in Coventry nightclub19/10/2020 12:43:00
National Crime Agency officers have discovered a massive three-floor cannabis farm in a former nightclub in Coventry.