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Third Co-Admin of the Child Pornography Site “PlayPen” Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Michael Fluckiger, known as “Administrator 2” in the administration of the child pornography site PlayPen, pleaded guilty to his crimes in December 2015. In early January, a judge sentenced the man to 20 years in prison for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. The Indiana man, after being arrested in April 2015, pleaded not guilty to sexual exploitation and other charges that related to online child pornography, yet opted to remain in custody.

During the course of the PlayPen investigation, the FBI agent who tracked down Fluckiger—Special Agent Daniel Alfin—linked Administrator 2’s IP address to that of a Comcast address in Indiana. At the time, few knew the method the FBI used to track down PlayPen member IP addresses. After further cases broke and documents surfaced, the true scope of the FBI’s investigation and suspect identification via a form of malware became public knowledge.

The FBI received a warrant that allowed the mass-hacking of internet users across the globe. Judges in the US, numerous times, ruled against the FBI in the PlayPen investigation dubbed “Operation Pacifier.” Government officials, privacy advocates, and even some federal prosecutors protested, or at least acknowledged, that the FBI lacked the authority to invade the privacy of so many people.

Relevant excerpt from our article on the Hughes case regarding the FBI’s 8,000-person NIT hack:

“The order granted the FBI the ability to implement a piece of malware called a Network Investigative Technique or NIT for short. The code, once activated, effectively deanonymized users of Tor. Initially, as the FBI led both courts and the public to believe, the NIT warrant outlined a clear investigative scope. Recently released documents from United States District Court for the Western District of Washington vs. David Tippens, Gerald Lessan, and Bruce Lorente—three men in the FBI’s indictment—revealed otherwise.”

The FBI agent, in the Criminal Complaint, reported that he traced Fluckiger across three child pornography websites. Fluckiger used the same username on all three websites and, at one point, revealed his first name to another member of a child pornography website. Comcast responded to an FBI subpoena and revealed the name behind the IP address—or name of the Comcast account owner.

Law enforcement then performed physical surveillance on the suspect. They watched him and the house tied to his IP address—as well as the internet traffic to and from the computers in his house. On March 2, 2015, authorities reported that “Administrator-2 logged into Website-1 less than one-hour after Fluckiger arrived home.” The co-admin then landed in jail and faced charges related to advertising child pornography with other PlayPen viewers.

According to cyberscoop, Alfin testified against the man in court last year “The NIT was deployed against users who accessed posts in the ‘Preteen Videos—Girls Hardcore’ forum because users accessing posts in that forum were attempting to access or distribute or advertise child pornography. At the point where a user in that forum accessed a post, we can affirmatively state that a user has attempted to access child pornography.”

The other two administrators, or co-administrators—Steven Chase and David Browning—recently stood trial for similar roles. Jurors found Steven Chase guilty and David Browning accepted a plea deal.

3 comments

  1. With any good operation they first need to look like the “good” guys. They need a good cover story, as with any “good” criminal that the FBI or NSA studies would know.

    Putting forth these stories is the apex of their form to justify themselves. They actually hacked millions of computers but only decided on taking over 8,000 of them.

    However they have probaly 100,000 other targets for other reasons, they are using the backward case construction for other law enforcements. Similar to a Viper Sting they set up shutting down the freeways, taking notes for studies and busting a couple but not giving out their true motives.

    Governments motives rarely deviate from their continual mandate of subjugation by any and all means. The harder to target they will increase their targetting no matter what they are doing. Simply because at the higher levels there are so few who actually pose any threat to the Authorties no matter how corrupt they are. They rely on recruitment and tactics just like every other Corporation. They need to keep the flow going towards “Blessed Government” versus the “Cursed of Government” flow theories.

    It all comes down to is there a better way? My guess is yes, but the government seeks to capitalize on the degeneracy of its own system that it has generated and utilize that as it’s exact justification for it’s continued existance and methods using self imposed justifications upon Societies.

  2. This is why anonymous public Wi-Fi is an absolute must!! Use the HIGHEST security settings within the Tor Browser, which means NO JavaScript!! Check the NoScript icon -> Options -> Embeddings. Check everything. Use Tails on a hardware encrypted USB with VeraCrypt as your backend encryption within your Persistent Storage. And, do NOT post on social media and/or forums, ever (including, this one)!!

  3. 20 years in prison! Wow!! Framing your enemy just got easier. All that you have to do is to download some CP, get access to the creep’s computer, create a hidden directory somewhere, copy the CP, and then do nothing. Just wait for a nosy admin or the creep to sell his PC and sit back and laugh!!

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