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Unsealed Documents Tell More Details About The PlayPen Case

As an earlier report on Motherboard by Joseph Cox points out, sometimes it doesnt always take sophisticated malware and programs to identify criminals on dark net.

“Due to a misconfiguration of the server hosting the TARGET WEBSITE(Playpen), the TARGET WEBSITE was available for access on the regular Internet to users who knew the true IP address of the server,” the warrant application from February 2015 read. These documents were unsealed as part of the Richard Stamper, child pornography suspicion case.

“Basically, Playpen must have set their site to a default, meaning if you typed in the IP address you could see the Playpen site,” the UK activist and technologist Thomas White explained via encrypted chat.


“Whereas if they set another default like ‘server not found’ then you could only access Playpen by typing the corrct .onion.sale address.” This would have enabled law enforcement could track the actual IP address that belonged to Playpen.

“An FBI Agent, acting in an undercover capacity, accessed IP address on the fegular Internet and resolved to TARGET WEBSITE,” continued the warrant application. The FBI tracked the IP back to CentriLogic in North Carolina. Revised versions of the warrant say that the FBI was given a heads up by a law enforcement agency out of the United States. The newly unsealed version also tells about how the IP address was left vulnerable.

It does not however, tell how this law enforcement agency that tipped off the FBI found out Playpen’s real IP address. The application continues by saying that the suspected main administrator, Steven Chase who is from Florida, was aware of the problem and trying to fix it.

“FBI agents know this by reading his private messages from the copy of the TARGET WEBSITE that was seized pursuant to the aforementioned search warrant.”

It also states that Mr. Chase also leaked info directly related to himself. His PayPal he used to pay to host the site was accessed on the same IP address from his home from September to November 2014. The FBI subpoenaed Paypal to reveal where the person was paying for the server was roughly located. It states that Chase also connected to a Playpen admin. account from his mom’s house on different occasions from December 2014 to January 2015.

These mistakes and more listed are what led to his arrest ultimately. Additionally Blake Benthall is suspected of being an additional administrator of the second Silk Road, registered a sever with his identifying email address. The Dark Net drug dealer went as far as to brand his products with his own name, which connected him to even more illegal activity.


  1. This proves that the inexperienced need to have the experienced hosting their Dark Net websites, which means locating these servers outside the US and Europe. Africa and India seem to be good choices at the moment. And, DeepDotWeb needs to make a good tutorial on hidden web server hosting; preferably, a new admin should be able to set everything up using open-source code and scripts and then have a ready set of tools to test out their site for vulnerabilities. Bitcoin is a good payment option, IF one uses tumblers!!

    • Its funny, every time a pedo site gets busted there are always people around to explain how they could have avoided getting caught, as if the pedos didn’t already know that themselves. Did anyone ever stop to wonder how the FBI got that IP to begin with? Its probably yet another exploit they used that no matter what setup people have, the FBI will always be there to find them. I’m sure the FBI and their 100+ years of experience in prosecuting money laundering and other organized crime aren’t running any of the bitcoin tumblers. There’s a reason the number of pedo sites went from close to 100 in 2012 to less than 5 in 2016.

      • Anonymous

        How do you know this, Ben? Are you looking at them? Fact is that no one truly knows for sure. Even one site is one too many and the fact is that there are some still operating. Given the 250K membership of Playpen, they will likely be operating until human life on this world dies out. As far as I have heard, there have been no take-downs since Playpen, and that one was discovered due to the ineptness of its admin.

  2. Good more skids take the fall im glad they were too retarded to set it up properly.

  3. Idiots! With this kind of OpSec you couldn’t sell carded iPads.

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