Joan Irvine, executive director for ASACP, described a new initiative ASACP has undertaken to track child pornographers that use adult affiliate programs as identity shields and moneymakers.
According to Irvine, child pornography reports submitted to ASACP's Compliance and Site Review Manager have sometimes led to widely respected and legitimate affiliate programs that have unknowingly been used as a method of payment for child porn memberships.
"This has been happening frequently enough that people need to know about it," Irvine told XBiz. "We only have recently begun looking into it and it could have been going on for a long time. But until ASACP was able to expand its effort and do additional research on reports, we were unable to realize the full extent of it."
Irvine admitted that a lot of the details behind this recent child porn scam are still under wraps, but that among the estimated 4,000 reports on child pornography that ASACP receives per month, they have discovered a distinct and alarming pattern.
According to Irvine, what appears to be happening more often is that child pornography website owners are joining up with legitimate adult entertainment affiliate programs. As is typical among responsible affiliates operators, they investigate the new affiliate site to make sure that its content is in keeping with the operator's standards.
By all appearances, the new website appears legitimate, but only on the surface, and after the initial investigation, the new affiliate adds web pages to its site that contain illicit child porn material. The affiliate then sends out a mass email asking surfers to visit its website and encourages new members, as well as confirmed seekers of child pornography, to sign up through the channels provided by the legitimate affiliate owner.
"It's a way of getting it paid for," Irvine told XBiz. "But they don't stick around for long."
In keeping with the current trend, these child porn website operators make a fast escape after an average of three or four days, Irvine told XBiz.
"What they want is to get quick sign-ups and then move on, which makes finding them difficult, but not impossible. The speed of getting the information and being able to verify it is important because these people are unscrupulous, but they are very smart," Irvine told XBiz.
The call to action for ASACP begins when they get a report and the site reviewer can identify that it goes to a legitimate affiliate program operator. Then ASACP calls the affiliate operator, explains the situation, and the report then goes to the FBI and NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).
ASACP advises affiliate operators to protect themselves against being caught in a child porn scam by being certain that none of their affiliates use terms that in any way suggest child pornography, and secondly, to place a disclaimer on the paysite join page to warn surfers against joining to gain access to another site.
Additionally, ASACP asks that webmasters refrain from posting child pornography alerts on message boards, which many times just end up alerting the suspect that an investigation is in progress.
"This kind of effort once again shows how the legitimate professional adult site owners are working to eliminate illegal child pornography from the Internet," said Irvine. "Everyone wants those who peddle child pornography in jail where they can no longer cause harm to children or to the reputation of the professional adult site industry."