Man arrested in ‘child exploitation enterprise’ with ‘unprecedented number of victims’ in Alaska, abroad
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A man from Bangladesh was arrested on Sept. 19 in Malaysia, and has now had a 13-count indictment unsealed by the Department of Justice for the District of Alaska in what authorities are calling “one of the most malicious, digitally facilitated sextortion and child pornography production schemes investigated to date by the FBI.”
Content Warning: This article contains information that some readers might find disturbing. Specific details have been omitted to protect the victims’ identities.
According to a release from the department, 24-year-old Zobaidul Amin was arrested in Kuala Lumpur by Royal Malaysian Police and charged with 12 counts “related to the possession and production of child pornography” by prosecutors with the Malaysia Attorney General’s Chambers. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Alexander and Jennifer Ivers will prosecute the case.
“Today, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, Lane Tucker announced the unsealing of a redacted indictment that charges Mr. Amin with operating a child exploitation enterprise, involving unfortunately an unprecedented number of victims both in the district of Alaska and across the United States and abroad,” Alexander said in an interview.
The release says that Amin is charged in the District of Alaska and for crimes elsewhere in the United States with offenses “related to his alleged abuse and exploitation of hundreds of minor victims.”
Amin is charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, conspiracy to receive and distribute child pornography, child exploitation enterprise, production of child pornography, receipt and distribution of child pornography, cyberstalking, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud in the indictment. According to the indictment, Amin and co-conspirators used Snapchat, Dropbox, and Instagram to extort minors for sexually explicit videos and images. According to the indictment, Amin used over 80 Snapchat accounts and over 40 Instagram accounts, some of which remain active.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Amin targeted hundreds of juveniles across the United States, here in Alaska, and indeed across the world. He bragged, allegedly as stated in the redacted indictment, that he would not be caught to his victims. That proved not to be true thanks to the efforts of the Anchorage FBI,” Alexander said. “We’re encouraging any juvenile or any parent or teacher who believes that their child may have been victimized by this individual or any other to report this to the FBI. I do want to note that children in this case deserve a great deal of credit for coming forward under very difficult circumstances and reporting these activities to law enforcement across the country, and it was their courage and their bravery that ultimately led to the identification, the arrest of Zobaidul Amin.”
Alexander said that Amin used a virtual private network to extort minors as young as 11 years old from his residence in Kuala Lumpur. The indictment states that Amin targeted minors, and often posed as a teenage boy or a teenage girl on his accounts. The indictment said that Amin would promise to cease extortion of his victims if they helped him find new victims.
“Once he had obtained a nude image, Amin began threatening to expose the victim unless the victim provided additional sexually explicit images and videos to him,” the indictment said. “Amin frequently followed through on his threats, sharing nude images of multiple minor victims to their social media followers or directing his co-conspirators to do so”
Alexander said that Amin was a “ringleader” and directed the operation of his child exploitation enterprise with others.
“There are few crimes as damaging and traumatic to a young person as sextortion,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska S. Lane Tucker said in the release. “It is especially evil to target impressionable children using social media apps such as Snapchat to exploit their innocence for pictures and videos. These children have been robbed of their childhood; and their lives and the lives of their families forever altered. This case highlights the immense collaboration and dedication of law enforcement partners across the country who are working tirelessly to identify the victims.”
The Alaska State Troopers initially fielded a report from one victim who lives in Alaska. Alexander credited the collaborative efforts between dozens of law enforcement agencies, as well as the trust and safety team at Meta with assisting in the investigation. Alexander said that Amin remains the subject of an active arrest warrant in Alaska.
“The arrest of Mr. Amin following a very long and resource-intensive investigation by Anchorage FBI — with the cooperation of a number of partners across the United States and across the world — really is a testament to the doggedness and the perseverance of a small handful of agents here in Anchorage, Alaska, who were ultimately able to identify an individual who is responsible for victimizing hundreds of children across the United States here in Alaska and across the world,” Alexander said. “And it’s only through their efforts, and again, the bravery and the courage of the children who came forward to report what had happened to them, that Mr. Amin is now ultimately being held responsible for what he’s done.”
The DOJ is asking that any member of the public with additional information about Amin’s activities call 1-800-225-5324 (1-800-CALL-FBI).
“Seen as one of the most prolific and malicious sextortion schemes investigated by the FBI to date, this child exploitation enterprise targeted hundreds of minors in the United States and abroad through popular social media platforms,” Special Agent in Charge Antony Jung, of the FBI Anchorage Field Office, said in the release. “Children would then be coerced into producing sexually explicit material and terrorized with threats of exposure if they did not continue. The protection of our children extends beyond borders, and this case demonstrates the multi-jurisdictional approach among local, state, federal, and international law enforcement partners to maximize our efforts in the pursuit of justice.”
The DOJ listed several informational resources for children and parents in the release, including what teens and caregivers should know about sextortion, what parents should know, the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign presentation for kids, and more information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, resources are available on the Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) website or by calling the statewide crisis hotline at 1-800-478-8999.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, resources are available on the Alaska Children’s Alliance and Alaska Children’s Trust websites. To report abuse or neglect, call the state’s hotline at 1-800-478-4444 or the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.