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British Child Porn Imageboard Operators Caught Via Careless OpSec

 

The British administrator of a DW child porn imageboard was busted because he used his real name, his recent sentencing revealed.

51-year old Brett McBain of south London admitted in court to creating the forum “£TheOtherPlace” in 2014, along with his partner, David Buckley (54) of East Yorkshire. The pair met through different similar channel on the dark web, unnamed in court documents, before they decided to set up their own site

The site’s homepage described it as ‘a channel for the respectful appreciation of youthful beauty’, and in court McBain testified that the site’s focused was on ‘a grey area of child porn’, however, the court documents show that material disseminated on the site featured minors as young as the age of four. Court discovery documents further show that daily traffic on the board was relatively high, with as much as 60 people globally logging in and sharing links to 2,500 “indecent images of children,” including some in the most severe criminal category “A”. But this was all put to an end when police traced Brett McBain due to his username – Mr Brett.

In the span of the site’s operation during 2014-16, McBain posted 200,000 indecent images, while Buckley posted more than 30,000 indecent images. McBain pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to the distribution of indecent images while Buckley, who posed as a 22-year old woman online, admitted a single charge of conspiring to distribute images with McBain. McBain was sentenced to five years in prison and Buckley given three years of jail. The sentencing authority, Recorder Brian Altman QC, told the two: “This is an extremely grave case of its kind. Particularly in the case of McBain, the very high numbers and nature of the images involved are quite simply staggering.”

National Crime Agency officers were tipped off by Western Australian Police that someone with the username ‘MrBrett’ was always in the chat room. Officers found ‘MrBrett’ was McBain, and raided his residence last May while he was logged onto £TheOtherPlace. McBain told officers during his interview that he was ‘officially screwed’ as he was found in possession of more than 160,000 images, as well as an electronic diary detailing sexual fantasies. Chat logs recovered from McBain’s laptop linked him with Ladybird – AKA Buckley – who was arrested by officers from NCA’s CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Command in August last year.

The National Crime Agency’s Martin Ludlow said: “These two like-minded individuals brazenly set up a chat room for the sole purpose of viewing and sharing child sexual abuse images. They never met in real life but managed to orchestrate and run the site for two years by communicating with each other online…We have dismantled £TheOtherPlace in its entirety, stopping victims being re-victimised each and every time their image is viewed.” Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Keen of the Western Australia Police said Australian Police’s collaboration with the UK’s NCA over £TheOtherPlace led to multiple breakthroughs in similar cases worldwide He said: ‘WA Police initiated Operation Amadeus after investigating the potential distribution of child exploitation material through online chat rooms, and particularly though the Chat Channel £TheOtherPlace. “Our investigations immediately led to the identification of children at risk, and a number of men in Australia were charged as a result,” Crown Prosecution Service’s Punam Chopra said. “By facilitating access to thousands of indecent images of children, these men helped to fuel a demand for further abuse on the dark web.”

A spokesman for the UK children’s charity NSPCC spokesperson said: “McBain and Buckley went to great lengths to fuel a vile trade in child sexual abuse. Every single one of these images is a crime scene and real children are abused so they can be created. Viewing and sharing this horrendous material creates a market for it and it is right that offenders who do so, like McBain and Buckley, face the courts for their crimes. Tech companies, government, law enforcement and charities, like the NSPCC, are working together to tackle this growing issue, but more needs to be done to rid the online world of this horrific material.”

So, DeepDotWeb readers, what is our takeaway from this? Obviously, you should never use any part of your real identity on the DW, not even your first name. This applies to specifics about what city you live in/near, your profession, and your background. When in doubt, obfuscate.

But there is a second level to this case that we should all be worried about: The close collaboration between UK and Australian police. While it has been long known that the Signals Intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes nations share a great deal of information, this case shows us an example of a non-federal, regional police authority of Australia sharing information with the British NCA’s CEOP. While this writer certainly doesn’t have sympathy for McBain and Buckley, whom make it clear during in the court papers that they view encryption and privacy as a means to an end, we may yet be hoist on their petard as well.

The proceeds from this article will be donated to CoinCenter, in appreciation of their recent testimony before the US Congress on all of our behalf’s, and in return for the hospitality they showed me during my visit to their offices.

One comment

  1. darwin wins again

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