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This man is suspected to be Christopher Neil, who used a swirl filter on his face in images depicting sex acts with children.  (Source: Interpol)

A photo of Neil taken by Thai immigration officials on October 11.  (Source: Interpol)

A photo of Neil submitted to Interpol (left) and one of the unscrambled photos of the suspect (right).  (Source: Interpol)
Interpol finds success in blasting the man’s face across the internet

As it turns out, Interpol’s pleas for help in searching for the “swirly-faced” child molester have met with success: Canadian national Christopher Neil – the man behind the Photoshop filter – was found and arrested in Thailand, on suspicion of sex crimes against young boys.
 
According to local police reports, Neil had been in Thailand for not more than a week, abruptly leaving his teaching position in South Korea immediately after his picture was broadcast worldwide. He was spotted by airport security cameras in Thailand, sporting a shaved head and glasses. To quote Reuters, the search for Neil was “a manhunt to rival [the] search for JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect Mark Karr.”
 
Thailand issued a warrant for Neil’s arrest, based on accusations that he paid for oral sex from two Thai teenagers, who were aged 9 and 14 at the time. A trace was executed on Neil’s boyfriend’s cell phone, and he was pinpointed to a remote province called Nakhon Ratchasima, about 150 miles northeast of Bangkok and “well off the normal tourist trail.” The two had been travelling around to different provinces and were “probably on the run,” said tourist police chief Chuchart Suwannakom.
 
Interpol was originally apprehensive about posting the unscrambled photographs online, partly because it would signal to other crooks that they were capable of descrambling the swirl pattern – and possibly other obfuscation techniques – and partly out of respect for the perpetrator’s family and privacy. However, it was decided that the need to find him outweighed these concerns, and so his image was posted online a little over a week ago. The response was nothing short of torrential: over 200 different responses were received within the first 12 hours of the posting.
 
It appears that this case is closed, as Interpol has mountains of photographic evidence against the suspect. If convicted, Neil faces up to 20 years in a Thai prison, notwithstanding additional punishment from his home country of Canada, which has laws against child sex crimes committed abroad, if it chooses to seek extradition.



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RE: Black bars.
By Scorpion on 10/19/2007 2:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It would seem that the oldest tricks are still the best. Overlay the face with a black box and there's nothing left to descramble.


Absolutely, but don't let them know. We need to catch these idiots. With the swirl, the signal still exists in some form, only it has been distorted (transformed). With a common transformation like the swirl, I'm sure it wasn't too hard to isolate the reverse transformation to reconstruct the original signal to a degree of accuracy.

By simply removing that part of the signal all together there's really nothing to work with to do any type of reconstruction.

Thank god these criminals don't know anything about signal processing.


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