For five weeks, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt announced, German law enforcement investigated a darknet child abuse forum. The forum, known as “Elysium,” only appeared in December of last year. However, between December 2016 and July 2017, the forum had already attracted 87,000 members. On July 6, the Prosecutor’s Office announced that law enforcement removed the site and arrested a dozen of the priority suspects.
On June 12, the Federal Criminal Police Office raided an apartment in the Limburg-Weilburg district. The apartment belonged to a 39-year-old male that served as the forum administrator and technical admin. While raising his apartment, the BKA found the server that hosted the illicit forum. In one fell swoop, authorities ended the administrator and the forum itself.
This is much like the other prominent forum (or marketplace) takedowns conducted by the BKA or Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT). In 2016, they conducted a much more widespread raid against the owners and admins of the UE forums a.k.a., the Underground Economy (Forums).
An excerpt from the press release on what the UE forums were:
“The investigations are directed against the suspected operators and users of various German-speaking UE forums, on which illegal goods such as weapons, narcotics [various drugs], counterfeit money, fake official IDs [types of IDs], and stolen data [credit cards]. In addition, the targets included criminal services, such as the infection of computers with malware or DDoS attacks, tutorials and illegal streaming services.”
Top three links are for the former DiDW.
During their raid of 69 houses, apartments, and other locations, the BKA seized drugs, guns, money, computers, and of course – servers. “The BKA succeeded in confiscating several servers in France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Russia, on which criminal online marketplaces were operated,” the press release read. And while on a much larger scale, this is nearly identical to the most recent raid.
In addition to the 39-year-old admin, the BKA arrested 17 suspects from various locations. Three, not counting the original admin, were arrested in Germany. And 14, all of them suspected users of the site, were arrested in Austria.
The child abuse forum, Elysium, hosted “bizarre” content, the police said. A sense of urgency was required as the site promoted “serious sexual abuse” and “serious sexual violence” against children. Some of the arrested suspects were accused of facilitating the distribution of child abuse material on the darknet, but some committed acts of sexual advise against children themselves.
An investigation into the remaining members, along with the 17 currently in custody, is underway. The 39-year-old, at the District Court of Giessen, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in spreading child abuse material.