South Korea court freezes digital currency wallets for Nth Room operator

A South Korean court has ordered a freeze on the digital currencies belonging to the alleged operator of a child pornography ring. Known as the Nth Room, the ring operated on encrypted message service Telegram and received payments in digital currencies.

The Seoul-based court issued the freeze order for 15 digital currency wallets owned by Cho Joo-bin, the alleged mastermind behind Nth Room. It was acting on the request of the prosecutors in charge of the case, KBS News reported. The prosecutors believe that the wallets hold most of the profits that Cho generated from his criminal activities.

The court also revealed that authorities had recovered 130 million won ($106,950) from Cho’s house in April. This money will be critical in proving the extent of the criminal network he had established.

Nth Room was a pornography operation that distributed their material primarily through Telegram. South Korean authorities busted the operation in late 2019. Cho, known on Telegram as ‘The Doc’, allegedly lured over 100 women with promises of high-income jobs, only to extort and blackmail them into engaging in pornography. He reportedly received payments in digital currencies from over 10,000 subscribers.

Of the 103 women involved in the porn ring, 26 were minors, according to authorities.

Tracking the digital currencies has been key to getting to all the perpetrators of the dehumanizing acts. It hasn’t been easy, especially since many of the members of the Nth Room made payments in digital currencies.

Some of the members also used international digital currency exchanges, further complicating the investigations for Korean authorities. As one police investigator told a local news outlet, “It is complicated to realistically track the money that criminals have exchanged in foreign exchanges into Korean Won through illegal exchange offices.”

Korean exchanges have stepped up to aid in the investigations, offering the details of alleged members. As CoinGeek reported, the four largest exchanges in the country—Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit and Coinone—have been cooperating with the police. Their efforts have led to the arrest of over 100 suspected members of the Nth Room and its offshoots.

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