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Inside the Bitcoin Bust That Took Down the Web’s Biggest Child Abuse Site

IMAGE: TIME

They thought their payments were untraceable. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The untold story of the case that shredded the myth of Bitcoin’s anonymity.

By Andy Greenberg | 7 April 2022

WIRED — Early one fall morning in 2017, in a middle-class suburb on the outskirts of Atlanta, Chris Janczewski stood alone inside the doorway of a home he had not been invited to enter.

Moments earlier, armed Homeland Security Investigations agents in ballistic vests had taken up positions around the tidy two-story brick house, banged on the front door, and when a member of the family living there opened it, swarmed inside. Janczewski, an Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator, followed quietly behind. Now he found himself in the entryway, in the eye of a storm of activity, watching the agents search the premises and seize electronic devices.

They separated the family, putting the father, an assistant principal at the local high school and the target of their investigation, in one room; his wife in another; the two kids into a third. An agent switched on a TV and put on “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” in an attempt to distract the children from the invasion of their home and the interrogation of their parents.

Janczewski had come along on this raid only as an observer, a visitor flown in from Washington, DC, to watch and advise the local Homeland Security team as it executed its warrant. But it had been Janczewski’s investigation that brought the agents here, to this average-looking house with its well-kept yard among all the average-looking houses they could have been searching, anywhere in America. He had led them there based on a strange, nascent form of evidence. Janczewski had followed the links of Bitcoin’s blockchain, pulling on that chain until it connected this ordinary home to an extraordinarily cruel place on the internet—and then connected that place to hundreds more men around the world. All complicit in the same massive network of unspeakable abuse. All now on Janczewski’s long list of targets. […]

3 Comments on Inside the Bitcoin Bust That Took Down the Web’s Biggest Child Abuse Site

  1. What happened, was an arrest made? The writing is just beginning, there is not an ending to it?

    • The writing is just beginning, there is not an ending to it?

      Click on the red text to follow the link to the source of the article — generally, such content is protected by copyright, and it is, strictly speaking, illegal to reproduce the entire article on a third party website.

      The article reads like a paean to the biggest criminal gang of all, the federal government, including the DHS, which conducted the raid, an agency that didn’t exist until about 20 years ago — despite the heinousness of the alleged crime, I’m not the type who can read such a piece without feeling very troubled about the growing power of the national security surveillance state, since I fundamentally do not trust government.

      Such articles usually include banal, disarming text like the passage below:

      ON A SUMMER’S day in London a few months earlier, a UK-born South African tech entrepreneur named Jonathan Levin had walked into the unassuming brick headquarters of the UK’s National Crime Agency—Britain’s equivalent to the FBI—on the south bank of the Thames. A friendly agent led him to the building’s second floor and through the office kitchen, offering him a cup of tea. Levin accepted, as he always did on visits to the NCA, leaving the tea bag in.

      I suppose it’s meant to humanize the government and reassure the reader that it really is on your side, the side of decency and righteousness — sorry, but I’m not buying it.

      • Thank you for explaining how Around the Web posts work.

        Indeed, we curate some of what we read for Winter Watch. We can only curate a small portion of the story — a teaser, if you will — without permission due to copyright laws. At the beginning and end of the story is the link to the full story.

        Just to be clear, these shares are not promotions. With rare exception, they’re not endorsements. Often we may not fully agree with points espoused. Mostly, we use them as an opportunity to introduce a topic for discussion, especially if it’s something we find noteworthy but don’t have immediate plans to write about it.

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