U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced a Purcellville man to 60 months in prison for sharing and downloading thousands of pictures and videos depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Although the majority of child abuse cases in the United States that have involved the darknet have centered around the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s horribly executed Operation Pacifier, this case stemmed from an active investigation into a different darknet child abuse platform.
The Criminal Complaint explained that “HSI agents at the Cyber Crimes Center, Child Exploitation
Investigations Unit” discovered a darknet child abuse bulletin board identified in the documents as “Bulletin Board A.” They learned of the then-ongoing investigation near the end of 2015. They learned of members both within the United States and suspects across the world.
Examining court documents and specifying which child abuse site was under investigation, helped Homeland Security Investigations during 2015 and 2016 track the sites. Without additional knowledge, it is not possible to guess which site was under investigation. The investigation, additionally, may not have been one started by the United States government. Another country’s law enforcement agencies could have notified Homeland Security Investigations and sent lists of IP addresses connected to members living within the United States.
Given that the identity of the site was kept from the public, it is impossible to know whether or not the site is still online. Federal authorities in the United States likely learned how to better deal with child abuse forum operations following Operation Pacifier. It would be not unrealistic to assume that the federal agency involved—in the United States—would have kept the operation private.
The court documents said that a number of IP addresses that had accessed the site belonged to people living in the United States. Homeland Security Investigations had identified an unknown number of the individuals behind the IP addresses. The investigation is likely to continue ongoing. Months after “becoming aware” of the investigation into the site, Homeland Security Investigations agents identified and raided the home of Nikolai Bosyk, 40.
Agents seized and examined Bosyk’s computers and storage devices. The court documents revealed that investigators had uncovered thousands of pictures and videos on Bosyk’s primary computer’s hard drive. The computer had hundreds of bookmarked hidden services that all pointed to various child abuse sites.
In October 2017, United States authorities charged Bosyk for downloading and possessing child abuse material. In February 2018, Bosyk pleaded guilty to the charges and admitted that he had used “Bulletin Board A” to access and download the content. In May, Judge Brinkema sentenced the Virginia man to 60 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release.