Now they need to arrest all the others who are running similar extortion web sites (Form).
By Karl de Vries
A San Diego man who allegedly ran a "revenge porn" website, where he posted more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos so he could then use a second site to extort victims for as much as $350 each to remove the illicit content, has been arrested, the California attorney general's office said (YouTube Video).
Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, was charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion (PDF), Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Tuesday in a news release.
“This website published intimate photos of unsuspecting victims and turned their public humiliation and betrayal into a commodity with the potential to devastate lives,” Harris said.
Bollaert created the website ugotposted.com in December 2012, which allowed users from across the country to anonymously post private photographs containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission, the release said. The photos are typically obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship or are stolen or hacked.
But unlike other such revenge porn sites, ugotposted.com required that the poster include the subject's full name, location, age and Facebook profile link.
“PLEASE HELP! I am scared for my life! People are calling my work place and they obtained that information through this site!” one victim, known in Bollaert’s arrest warrant as “Jane Doe #6,” wrote to ugotposted.com’s email address in July. The victim, who told investigators she believed her email account was illegally accessed, also claimed that nude photographs of herself were emailed to relatives, and said she was scared to return to work.
Other victims allege stories in which they were repeatedly contacted and harassed by strangers after explicit photographs were posted on the site, forcing them to change their phone numbers and delete their Facebook accounts.
After the content was posted, Bollaert allegedly created a second website, changemyreputation.com, where he would contact victims and offer to remove the content for a price -- while declining to tell the victims he was the same person who posted the content in the first place.
Bollaert, according to the arrest warrant, told investigators he was making $800 to $900 a month off ads linked to ugotposted.com, and said he was receiving nearly 100 emails a day from people requesting that content be removed from his site. Records obtained from changemyreputation.com’s PayPal account indicate he received payments that totaled tens of thousands of dollars, the release said.
Bollaert was arrested after six-month-long investigation, the release said.
“Yeah, I realize like this is not a good situation,” Bollaert told authorities. “I feel bad about the whole thing and like I just don’t want to do it anymore. I mean I know a lot of people are getting screwed over like on the site. Like their lives are getting ruined.”
A message left by FoxNews.com on Tuesday with Bollaert’s attorney, Alex Landen, was not immediately returned.
According to the arrest warrant, Bollaert said a friend named Eric Chanson helped him create the site, though he claimed Chanson’s involvement ended soon after the site’s launch. Chanson is not currently facing any charges, Pacilio told FoxNews.com on Tuesday, though he declined to say if any charges would be forthcoming in the future.
|Kevin Christopher Bollaert|
California is one of the few states in the country with anti-revenge porn laws, though several other states, including Maryland, Wisconsin and New York, are considering similar measures. But the laws run up against opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which worry that such regulation conflicts with the First Amendment.
But advocates of the laws believe they’re necessary to protect victims.
“This is cyber-rape,” Holly Jacobs, 30, told FoxNews.com in September. “It violates you over and over again.”