TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Police and the Porn Fraud Mess

Police and the Porn Fraud Mess

Steve Hayes (
Sun, 22 Apr 2007 23:38:04 +0100

There has been some recent discussion in Telecom Digest of police
methods and their intentional or unintentional deficiencies. The story
linked to here is pretty interesting in that regard and I'm surprised
that there hasn't been any corresponding mention in the digest
already. Although it affects quite a few people here in Britain, there
must be many more in a similar situation in the USA and other

To summarise (and in case the link doesn't work): some years ago, US
authorities busted the Landslide portal in Texas. This portal served a
number of porn sites, allegedly including some containing child
porn. The arrangement had been that people could sign up for
individual sites via Landslide who would charge their credit cards and
pass on 65% of the revenue to the site operators, keeping the balance.

Following the bust, lists of customers and their credit card details
were passed to various police forces for followup, including UK
police. A considerable number of people here, including some
well-known names, were questioned about accessing child porn. There
have been some prosecutions and a number of suicides. It always seemed
odd to me that there were that many people interested in child porn.

The article linked to here reveals that before the bust, Landslide had
discovered a high level of credit card fraud involving their
site. Individual site operators were using lists of stolen card
numbers to sign up batches of people to their own sites, obviously
with the intention of disappearing with the 65% before the sh*t hit
the fan. Landslide logs show that a lot of the supposed customers
never actually visited the sites to view the porn they had bought
access to.

It looks like Landslide was already effectively out of business before
the bust due to the massive level of chargebacks from the banks.

What is most alarming (but not surprising) is the way that the police,
prosecutors and presumably even many of the defence lawyers overlooked
the fact that this fraud was happening meaning that the Landslide
customer lists were not worth the disk platters they were stored on.

Steve Hayes, South Wales, UK

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