Processor Admits to Laundering Child Porn Payments

Gretchen Gallen
NEWARK, N.J. – A Florida credit card processor pleaded guilty Tuesday to its involvement in a global Internet child porn ring that involved dozens of arrests in Belarus, France, Spain, and New Jersey. Several hundred more suspects are currently being investigated for their involvement.

Connections USA, which was doing business as iServe.com, was charged with money laundering an estimated $1 million in credit card payments for child porn websites.

Connections worked directly with Belarus-based RegPay Co. Ltd., which managed the paid memberships for 50 child porn websites, said court papers. RegPay was formerly known as Trustbill and among its dozens of websites, was known for the child porn website Pedoworld.

Connections USA has so far revealed the names and credit cards numbers of more than 100,000 RegPay subscribers who might have been involved in the distribution and acquisition of child porn.

The raid on Connections USA took place in June 2003 and came fruition in January 2004 for federal agents with the arrests of suspects associated with RegPay.

Connections was reportedly acting as a money launderer for RegPay, and after collecting membership fees, forwarded the money to a bank in Eastern Europe. Connections kept an 11 percent commission on all transactions for RegPay websites.

The Connections USA/RegPay bust is part of child porn task force Operation Predator.

Settlement terms for Connections USA include the forfeiture of $1.1 million and the closure of its business. Sentencing will not be heard until Aug. 16. Ownership of the company was not revealed in court proceedings, although several of RegPay's officers were also indicted. One remains at large, say authorities.

The Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is calling the case one of the largest Internet child porn cases so far undertaken by the U.S. government.