Website Owner Found Guilty of Identity Theft and Extortion

2015-02-04
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28-year-old Kevin Bollaert ran a “revenge porn” website where members could post nude pictures of their ex-lovers. The posting of nude or pornographic images of another in order to shame or otherwise harm someone is referred to as “revenge porn” and is a misdemeanor in California. The law was enacted in October of 2013 in order to protect victims from emotional distress, job loss, and other serious consequences of having humiliating photos posted without their permission.

Bollaert took “revenge porn” to a whole new level, however, and the attorney general’s office felt that his actions deserved more than a misdemeanor charge. Bollaert’s website was called ugotposted.com and ran from December 2, 2012 through September 17, 2013. Over 10,000 photos were uploaded, mostly of nude women. To add insult to injury, the victims’ names, addresses, Facebook profile links, and more were posted along with the pictures.

As if this was not enough, Bollaert ran another site, changemyreputation.com, where people could pay to have their images removed from ugotposted.com. Some people were charged up to $350 to have unauthorized photos removed from the website. Prosecutors say Bollaert earned tens of thousands of dollars from the site.

One woman whose nude image was posted online tried to commit suicide, while another testified that the site had ruined not only her reputation but even her relationship with her family. Over two dozen women from all walks of life – teachers, wives, and other professionals – were named as victims in the criminal complaint. These women said their lives were left in ruin after others discovered the online photos.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said the victims were subjected to “shame, and embarrassment, in the context of their family, their community and their workplace.” Due to the damage the websites caused, and the blackmail scheme Bollaert masterminded which exceeded the limits of “revenge porn” law, jurors found him guilty of 27 counts of identity theft and extortion. Prosecutors say Bollaert faces up to 20 years in prison.

Bollaert’s attorney, Emily Rose-Weber, said “It’s gross, it’s offensive, but it’s not illegal.” Apparently, a jury of his peers disagrees.

 

Author: Darlene M. Brown

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