In a shocking story, a former acting director of the U.S. Department of Health & Human services, Timothy DeFoggi, has been found guilty of child pornography charges. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Timothy DeFoggi Was a Cybersecurity Expert for HHS
TIME refers to DeFoggi as the “acting head of cybersecurity” for HHS. TIME writes:
“It’s unclear if his illegal activity overlapped with his work for the government. In an HHS budget report for Fiscal Year 2014 that was found by the Washington Post, a Tim DeFoggi is identified as head of OS IT Security Operations for the department.”
It appears that DeFoggi was involved in online child pornography practices as early as March 2012. According to Business Insider, DeFoggi worked for HHS from 2008 until the start of 2014. After starting as an IT specialist, he eventually became a Lead IT Specialist.
2. DeFoggi Tried to Use Tor to Cover His Tracks
Timothy DeFoggi thought Tor would help hide him online; but it can't help hide you when the Feds control the child porn site you visit.
— Kim Zetter (@KimZetter) August 27, 2014
WIRED reports that DeFoggi used Tor to try and hide his illegal online activities. In order to catch DeFoggi, the feds used a special type of malware to implicate him:
“Using the Tor browser, the traffic of users is encrypted and bounced through a network of computers hosted by volunteers around the world before it arrives at its destination, thus masking the IP address from which the visitor originates.
The malware that investigators installed remotely on the machines of visitors to [these child pornography] sites was designed to identify the computer’s IP address as well as its MAC address and other identifiers. The results were coordinated raids in April 2013 that swept up more than a dozen suspects.”
Tor, an “onion router,” enables people to anonymously visit websites. While Tor does get used by unsavory types, the service is also used to freely access blocked websites and ensure personal freedom. Tor actually started as a project of the U.S Navy.
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3. DeFoggi Was Caught Through ‘Operation Torpedo’
DeFoggi is the sixth suspect to have been caught through Operation Torpedo, an FBI operation to capture child pornography users. WIRED recounts the state the authorities found DeFoggi in when they came to arrest him:
“When agents arrived at his home early one morning to execute a search warrant, they had to pry [DeFoggi] from his laptop, which was in the process of downloading a child porn video..In addition to child porn images stored on his computer, authorities also found evidence of his Tor browser history, showing some of his activity.”
4. DeFoggi Used the Screen Names ‘F***Christ’ & ‘PT***eater’
The Daily Mail reports that DeFoggi was active in child pornography websites, and operated under the usernames “F***Christ” and “PT***eater”. His profile on one such website read: “Have many perversions. Contact me for fantasy chat.”
Here is an excerpt from the Justice Department’s statement on DiFoggi’s conviction, which has more of the shocking details about DeFoggi’s sick habit:
“According to evidence presented at trial, DeFoggi registered as a website member on March 2, 2012, and maintained his membership and activity until Dec. 8, 2012, when the website was taken down by the FBI. Through the website, DeFoggi accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members where he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children. DeFoggi even suggested meeting one member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children.”
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5. DeFoggi’s Trial Comes Hot on the Heels of John Henry Skillern’s Arrest
As we reported earlier this month, Google is helping the authorities to bring in child pornography users. One such person is John Henry Skillern, pictured above. He is a convicted sex offender who was recently arrested on child pornography charges. Google alerted the authorities after they discovered llegal images of child exploitation in Skillern’s Gmail account.