After following the money trail of child porn distributors and producers, the feds discovered the role two major credit card companies were playing as child porn money launderers, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Attorney General Ashcroft said in a statement: "Today's indictment strikes at the heart of the commercial trade of child pornography by attacking the commercial profits derived from such a deplorable venture."
Several of the principal executives at Regpay Co. Ltd. and Connections USA were indicted for processing paid memberships to dozens of child porn websites, said the AP.
Formerly known as Trustbill, Regpay is based in Belarus and ran child porn website Pedoworld, while also serving as the credit card processing company.
Credit card processor Connections of Fort Lauderdale did business as Iserve and openly advertised child porn websites, authorities reported. The two companies were allegedly raking in millions in subscription fees.
According to Joan Irvine, executive director for Adult Site Against Child Pornography (ASCAP), Regpay has been on ASACP's radar for quite some time as being a major player in child porn rings.
ASACP has been tracking the activities of Pedoworld since 2000 and has identified Regpay as a child porn billing source in reports sent to the FBI.
"In fact, we alerted the FBI to how Pedoworld was using a hotmail address to obtain customers and direct them to payment methods," she told XBiz.
ASACP can be credited with supplying the FBI with the customer service contact information, the URL of the contact page, and the exact billing link.
Additionally, ASACP has recently identified another billing company that has taken up the slack since Regpay has been put out of business. According to Irvine, that information has been passed along to the FBI.
The first round of indictments in the credit card porn scam began over the summer in France and Spain.
The AP reports that the feds are working on extraditing credit card executives from Europe to the U.S. for trial.
In addition to the credit card launderers, the feds also rounded up nearly 40 pedophiles in New Jersey and nationwide based on information obtained from the two credit card companies. Warrants were issued for dozens of people's computers.
Among those indicted were a teacher, a minister, and a doctor.