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Incarcerated Pedophile Used a Dark Web Forum to Arrange a Rape in France

Not long after French law enforcement arrested the alleged owner of a dark web child exploitation forum that had been flying under the radar for years, investigators in France foiled a pedophile’s plan to have his own daughter kidnapped and raped by a member of another dark web forum for pedophiles.

According to the French media outlet that broke the story about the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that led to the arrest of the alleged dark web child pornography forum owner, cybercrime investigators working for the Judicial Police of Lyon spotted something that warranted a rapid response. These cybercrime investigators had been investigating pedophiles through various internet platforms. One of these platforms was a forum on the dark web dedicated to the discussion of child abuse and distribution of child exploitation content otherwise described as “child pornography.” French authorities, likely due to the nature of the investigation, have revealed very little information about the forum. Any connection between the arrest of the alleged dark web forum owner and the arrests made in the kidnapping case has not been identified.

During this investigation, investigators learned the identities of several forum members living in France. Information suggests that the forum was a French dark web forum rather than an international forum with a subforum for people living in France. The subforums in this case seemingly catered to pedophiles living in very specific parts of France. While monitoring the posts by a member of the child pornography forum, the member was identified as an inmate at the Penitentiary Center of Bedenac. Since unfettered internet access in prisons in France seems to be forbidden, the inmate had presumably used a smartphone purchased illegally when incarcerated. Illegal smartphones and other cellular communication devices are problems for prisons around the world. France is no exception; during the first half of 2017, French authorities confiscated almost 20,000 cell phones and related accessories. French prisons, at the time, housed roughly 70,000 inmates.

Someone close to the case said the forum user had been identified as an inmate sentenced to “several years” at the Penitentiary Center of Bedenac for “sexual acts committed against one or more children.” Law enforcement had also identified accounts controlled by the same inmate on a number of similar sites and hidden services. According to local news outlets, French authorities launched the investigation “a couple weeks ago” after the inmate had posted on one of the dark web forums about something that required immediate action by law enforcement. The inmate had posted a request on the forum that “allowed users to get in touch with each other” for someone on the outside to kidnap and then violently rape his nine-year-old daughter.

The police had also identified another forum member as a pedophile living in an undisclosed city in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France. The second pedophile “responded positively” to the forum post. After a week or more of back and forth between the incarcerated pedophile and the pedophile interested in kidnapping and raping the incarcerated pedophile’s daughter, the two had devised a plan. “He was planning to kidnap the little girl at [the girl’s home] in Montendre,” a source close to the investigation told reporters. Investigators lucked out, though; the pedophiles had planned the abduction and rape in such a way that their entire plan was accessible to the authorities. Even the dates and times had been discussed on the open forum, letting investigators know exactly when they needed to take action.

With the information from the dark web forum posts and the evidence linking the accounts to the two suspected pedophiles, the cybercrime investigators met with the prosecutor’s office of Saintes about conducting an investigation and preparing an arrest on the day of the planned kidnapping. The day prior to the attempted kidnapping, the Judicial Police of Lyon watched as the suspected pedophile prepared to leave from where he had been staying in Lyon to travel to Bordeaux. On November 11, after the man had started executing his plan, but before he had any contact with the child, the police arrested him. The incarcerated pedophile, too, was pulled from prison to face new charges before a judge in Saintes. Both suspects face attempted kidnapping charges but the investigation is still ongoing.

 

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