WASHINGTON – A Dutch national was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for his operation of Dark Scandals, a site on both the darknet and clearnet that featured violent rape videos and depictions of child pornography.
U.S. Attorney Tim Shea announced the indictment. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Greeley, Colorado and The Hague, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (Washington, D.C.). The Dutch National Police of the Netherlands, Europol, and the German Federal Criminal Police (the Bundeskriminalamt) provided assistance and coordinated with their parallel investigations.
Michael Rahim Mohammed, aka Mr. Dark, 32, was charged with various counts of distribution of child pornography, production and transportation of obscene matters for sale or distribution, engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter, and laundering of monetary instruments according to the nine-count indictment and parallel civil forfeiture action unsealed today.
“Darknet sites that profit from rape and the sexual exploitation of children are among the most vile and reprehensible forms of criminal behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea. “This Office will not allow predators to use lawless online spaces as a shield. We are firmly committed to working closely with our partners in the Netherlands and around the world to bring to justice the perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes.”
“The types of crimes described in this indictment are the most disgusting I’ve encountered in 30 years of law enforcement,” said Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI). It is a special kind of evil to prey on and profit from the pain of others. “Criminals should know if you leave a digital footprint, we will find you. If you exploit our children, we will put you behind bars. If you thought you were anonymous, think again. The dark web is not quite as dark today due to the hard work of IRS-CI and our partner agencies.”
The indictment alleges Mohammed, who resides in The Netherlands, operated the Dark Scandals sites that hosted and distributed videos and images featuring nonconsensual and violent sexual abuse. Dark Scandals began operating in or about 2012. Dark Scandals boasted over 2,000 videos and images and advertised that it offered “real blackmail, rape and forced videos of girls all around the world.” Dark Scandals offered users two ways to access this illicit and obscene content, which was delivered in “packs” by the defendant via email to customers to download. Users could either pay for the video packs using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or upload new videos to add to the content of the Dark Scandals sites.
The Dark Scandals sites included specific rules for the video uploads to the sites, which included “real rape/forced” content, and stated a preference for “own made material.” The site specifically forbade “fake, amateur…or acted movies,” rejecting content if it did not portray real sexual violence. The defendant allegedly received almost $2 million from selling this obscene and illicit content.
A forfeiture complaint was also unsealed today. The complaint alleges that law enforcement was able to trace payments of bitcoin and ethereum to the Dark Scandals site by following the flow of funds on the blockchain. The 303 virtual currency accounts identified in the complaint were allegedly used by customers across the world to fund the website and promote the exploitation of children and other vulnerable victims. The forfeiture complaint seeks to recover these funds and return the illicit funds to victims of the crime through the restoration process. The forfeiture complaint also seeks to forfeit the previously seized website domains associated with DarkScandals.
The charges in the pleadings are merely allegations, and Mohammed is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Suttenberg and Zia M. Faruqui, Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Elizabeth Swienc and Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Brian Rickers, and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Additional assistance has been provided by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Youli Lee and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.