Facepalm: Well-known World of Warcraft streamer, Thomas Cheung, was arrested by the FBI on child sex charges as part of a larger sting operation to snuff out child sex trafficking and other sexual crimes against children.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) worked with the FBI to conduct a child sex sting operation called "Operation Interception" that led to 21 people being arrested over a five-day period. Thomas Cheung, a Twitch streamer and employee of Paladins developer Hi-Rez Studios, was one of those arrested this past weekend on charges of using a computer to "seduce, solicit, lure or entice" children.
According to a press release by the GBI:
The goal of 'Operation Interception' was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line, have sexually explicit conversations, and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex. Additionally, the operation targeted those who are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor. On-line child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and ultimately arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex
As for Cheung himself, he worked at Hi-Rez as a community specialist for Smite and Paladins Strike. The company immediately terminated Cheung's employment after learning of the sting through the media. In a tweet, CEO Stew Chisam condemned Cheung's actions and praised the efforts of law enforcement.
With around 34,000 followers, Cheung was also a prolific Twitch streamer under the pseudonym "Elvine". He played primarily MMORPGs with World of Warcraft being a mainstay of his channel. His Twitch account has since been removed along with his sponsorship from SteelSeries. According to Kotaku, Cheung was well known in the Twitch and WoW community and was considered "safe and friendly".
Under Georgia law, Cheung and the other 20 people could face up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $25,000.