Tip From 4chan Leads To Arrest Of Site Visitor On Child Porn Charges

Spurred by a tip from the administrators of the notorious 4chan web site, investigators raided the home of a Massachusetts man whose computer was found to contain an assortment of child pornography, according to court files.

Kevin McNicol, 23, was named last Thursday in a federal criminal complaint charging him with enticing a minor to engage in sexual acts via a webcam. McNicol, pictured in the adjacent mug shot, was charged earlier this month with four state charges related to the discovery of child porn on his laptop.

The federal/state probe of McNicol was triggered last year when 4chan administrators “filed a Cyber Tip with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” The site reported that a visitor had uploaded an image of suspected child pornography. The photo showed a young girl “engaged in simulated oral sex on what appears to be a cucumber with a white liquid coming from her mouth,” according to a U.S. District Court filing.

Which, of course, is pretty common fare for the anarchic web site, home to a wide array of porn, questionable images, and racist rants. It has also served as a key launching pad for online attacks organized by supporters of the hacktivist group “Anonymous.”

Armed with an IP address provided by 4chan, agents tracked the photo’s posting to McNicol’s Hyannis residence, where they confiscated his Gateway laptop pursuant to a search warrant. While McNicol declined to speak with investigators, his wife told agents that she had observed her husband and a friend on 4chan.

A forensic examination of McNicol’s computer revealed dozens of video files depicting minor females “exposing their genitals and/or engaging in sexual acts.” The clips appears to have been recorded during webcam chats in which McNicol participated.

McNicol, now in custody, is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Boston federal court for a detention hearing.