Georgia Bureau of Investigation has announced that 21 men have been arrested after a three week long investigation called Operation Interception. Included in the number arrested is SMITE community specialist Thomas Cheung, also known as Elvine in the World of Warcraft community. Allegedly the men were attempting to arrange to have sex with a child and were caught up in the operation to "arrest persons who communicate with children online, have sexually explicit conversations & then travel to meet them".
Twitch partner and HiRez employee Thomas Cheung has been arrested for allegedly arranging to have sex with a child, as part of an undercover sting that lasted five days called "Operation Interception" ending on super bowl sunday according to Atlanta media https://t.co/spmV6F6apv pic.twitter.com/g10DQBF6bT— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) February 5, 2019
Cheung has been working with Hi-Rez on SMITE for a few months after managing the Paladins community before that. His gold making guides have been a staple of the World of Warcraft community for a long time. He also worked as a VR Community contractor with CCP Games for a short time in 2017.
The proactive on-line investigation was a coordinated effort among the participating law enforcement agencies to combat this activity. Brookhaven Police have a strong warning to would-be child predators: “Our message is simple: if you think you’re coming to Brookhaven to meet a child for sex, you’re likely to find us instead. This behavior will never be tolerated here.” GBI Special Agent in Charge, and Commander of the Georgia ICAC Task Force, Debbie Garner, remarked, “The Brookhaven Police Department is one of our most active member agencies. We appreciate their daily efforts to combat child exploitation. This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them. This successful operation was a true partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”
CCP Games has issued a statement about the situation:
We at CCP Games are shocked and appalled to hear the news regarding Thomas Cheung, who worked with us as a VR Community contractor from Jan - Nov 2017. We consider this behavior to be completely abhorrent and are reassured that the authorities have taken the appropriate action.
Hi-Rez has fired Mr. Cheung and issued the following statement:
On Monday, February 4th, we learned through local news that Thomas Cheung was arrested in an operation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. At this point, we know only what has been reported in the local news and by local law enforcement, and cannot comment on specifics of Mr. Cheung’s case, other than to say that, as of today, Mr. Cheung is no longer employed by Hi-Rez Studios.