P-Hunt culminates in 47 arrests | #predators | #childpredators | #kids

A covert cyber-surveillance operation code-named P-Hunt culminated in the arrest of 47 persons across the State on Saturday on the charge of having peddled child sexual abuse material, including photographs and videos.

Additional Director General of Police and Nodal Officer, Kerala Police Cyberdome, Manoj Abraham, who headed the operation, said the accused had used social media handles and video and photo sharing applications such as Instagram to share child sexual abuse material furtively.

A team led by IG, Crime Branch, S. Sreejith, coordinated the raids, which resulted in the seizure of mobile phones, modems, laptops, hard discs, memory cards, and desktop computers.

The officers found vast cache of videos and pictures of minors in various States of undress. The accused ranged from youngsters to senior citizens.

The police found a large number of candid snaps of children in swimming pools, on beaches, nurseries, playgrounds, water theme parks, shopping malls, and resort hotels. Investigators said the predators, equipped with mobile phones, had generated some of the images locally and traded them on various platforms.

The investigators used software provided by the Interpol to track persons who obsessively uploaded, swapped, and traded child sexual abuse content on instant messaging platforms, restricted chat rooms, and other encrypted platforms and in groups restricted by the membership.

The police reportedly used digitally marked prurient images of children for tracking their download and circulation to individual IP addresses.

The police relied on forensic software tools to impose digital signatures on child abuse material to track their circulation across the internet and allied communication platforms.

The police investigators backed by IT resource persons hunched for weeks in front of computers to infiltrate child porn groups.

Deception as tool

The investigators used social engineering techniques and deception to gain access to peer-to-peer child porn sharing groups. Some also insinuated themselves into the secret groups by evincing interest in child porn by creating and running fictitious social media identities.

Investigators said it was worrying that child sex predators increasingly used data destruction software to shield themselves from the law. State Police Chief Loknath Behera supervised the operation.

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