It was entirely by accident that he turned his talents to exposing the Internet-porn business, he says. Between investigations, he was Googling for a new project. “I was looking for something international,” he has said, and something involving dirty money. So he typed in Interpol, fraud alert, and investigations. That led him to a Website called MexicoFriends.com, which sounded to Eichenwald like it might involve cross-border money laundering but turned out to be an amateurish porn operation starring Justin Berry, who was 18 at the time, and a parade of beautiful Mexican women. His eye fell on the Web site’s help icon. It was illustrated with the face of a young kid Berry at about age 14. There were disclaimers, but Eichenwald looked past them. “Nobody could look at this image knowing that it was a porn site and not conclude this is about child porn,” Eichenwald testified in a related criminal case in Michigan. “It was an image of a 14-year-old boy, somebody who was clearly underage. Somebody who, in truth, and this was a very important thing, he looked a lot like my oldest son, who was 13 at the time.”
Yes, because an acclaimed business journalist who worked primarily on enterprise projects for the New York Times would be randomly fishing for new stories on Google instead of following up on tips. That story doesn’t boggle the mind at all. No siree.
We’ll have more tomorrow.