California Man Pleads Guilty to Trading Video Game Cheat Codes for Child Pornography

A 22-year-old California man pled guilty today to child pornography charges for getting a 10-year-old boy to send nude pictures of himself in exchange for Call of Duty "cheat codes," according to U.S. Attorney court records.

John Kenneth Calderon Basto, also known as Tribal x MoDzz, of Long Beach, California, pled guilty to causing the distribution of child pornography, according to Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Basto and the elementary student met while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox Live, according to court records. Basto and the boy talked online, and he eventually invited the boy into a private chat room, where they exchanged cell phone numbers. Through phone calls and text messages, Basto asked the boy for pictures of his genitals. In exchange, Basto promised to send the boy 20 cheat codes, which, according to the court papers, give a gamer "elite weapons, unlimited lives, and other advantages."

After the boy sent pictures with his cell phone to Basto in California via text message the 22-year-old told the boy to delete his text messages and pictures so he would not get caught. But the child's mother discovered the text messages from an out-of-state number and alerted authorities.

Basto is currently in federal custody. He will be sentenced on February 8. He faces not less than five years and up to 20 years in federal prison, lifetime supervised release, and sex offender registration.

This case was part of Project Safe Childhood, the flagship program in the Department of Justice's National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, and was the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oklahoma and California. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Hale.


You can contact Brian Crecente, the author of this post, at brian@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.