Although the darknet chatroom “Tabooless” or “Tabooless Chat” has only been offline for two weeks, judges at the Hechingen District Court have already sentenced one of the site’s administrators. An announcement revealed that the District Court judges had handed down a prison sentence of three and a half years to the man for distributing and possessing child abuse material.
The defendant, 50, lived a seemingly ordinary life Albstadt, Germany. According to investigators, the man was a “legendary figure in the child porn scene.” Under the name “Commander,” the Albstädter had a presence on nearly every major darknet child abuse site seized by German authorities. He bragged on forums such as Elysium or BLP about sexually assaulting his own daughter. He even uploaded photos of the 11-year-old. He only had an administrative role on Tabooless, though.
Investigators attributed this to “good moderation” and “quality uploads.” While investigating someone involved in the darknet drug arena, the authorities discovered the chatroom and soon learned, allegedly through a tipster, that “Commander” lived in or near Hannover. The tipster was most likely one of the expert witness at the trial who had transcripts of hours of conversations that took place on the site.
The man often gave other members of the site advice on remaining out of jail or general OPSEC tips. He warned of undercover investigators. His downfall was the result of a direct failure of his own advice; for months, undercover investigators carried on daily conversations with the admin. The investigators had developed an intricate plan that played out almost exactly the way they had hoped.
One of the undercover officers posed as a woman who shared fetishes with “Commander.” The pair talked constantly. They laughed. She sent pictures of herself that reflected some of the traits the man desired. The police even worked with a local theatre to get makeup for the pictures done properly. According to statements from the investigators used during the trial, the police had created this character so the 50-year-old would fall in love with her. And the undercover officer would fall for the administrator. In the end, they hoped he would become so enamored with the investigator that he dropped his guard and unintentionally identified himself.
The plan worked. He had fallen so deeply in love with the prospect of a new life with this woman he had never met that he very directly outed himself. Once the investigator thought she had the man where she needed him, she sent him an encrypted message with her “personal phone number.” He called her from a phone number registered to under his real name. They gathered further intel for weeks and finally moved in and ended the admin’s fantasy world.
To ensure he never got a chance to kill the server or wipe any evidence, the police executed the raid while the investigator kept him occupied during a text chat on the site. They perfectly carried out the arrest. With the man’s account still logged into the site, they gathered as much intelligence and evidence as possible. They also targeted another German member of the site’s staff who lived in Frankfurt. Through similar tactics, they managed to identify and arrest him as well.
Many saw how different the man really was in real life vs. the internet during his trial. He denied ever abusing or grooming his daughter. The daughter independently confirmed that her father had never abused her. The man told the court how much of a failure he was at life and that he wanted therapy. The court sentenced him to three and a half years in prison with mandatory counseling and therapy. In Frankfurt, the other member caught by German police is currently sitting in custody and waiting for his own trial.