Yesterday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the arrest of Kevin Bollaert, the “alleged owner and operator of a revenge porn website who facilitated the posting of more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos and extorted victims for as much as $350 each to remove the illicit content.”
Bollaert, a 27 year-old San Diego native, is allegedly behind the site “ugotposted.com.” According to allegations in the arrest warrant, the site allowed posters to upload nude images of victims with accompanying personal information, which in some cases provided the victim’s name, city, state, Facebook account, and other social media sites.
Additional statements in the arrest warrant allege that some of the victims paid money in order to have their images removed from the site
(NOTE: the website described in the above quote is likely misstated, and is likely referring to "changemyreputation.com." According to the arrest warrant, Bollaert is allegedly linked to this site as well).Doe # 1 and Doe #2 related that each of them sent an email to the website asking that their photos be removed and were instructed to go to the link at the bottom of UGOTPOSTED to have their photos removed. The link was to a website called firstname.lastname@example.org. Both Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 stated that they paid $249.99 to have their photos removed from UGOTPOSTED.
The publishing of nude photographs, in conjunction with the victim's name, Facebook account or other [personally identifiable information] without the victim's permission is the crime of identity theft in violation of Penal Code section 530.5. To be guilty under section 530.5(a), the defendant must (1) willfully obtain personal identifying information of another person, and (2) use the identifying information for an unlawful purpose without the person's consent." (People v. Tillotson (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 517, 533.) Here the unlawful purpose includes both a criminal offense under Penal Code section 653m (b) and a civil tort for the publication of private images. (In re Rolando S (2011) 197 Cal.App 936.)Section 653m (b) states in pertinent part: "Every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device, or makes any combination of calls or contact, to another person is, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call or contact by means of an electronic communication device, guilty of a misdemeanor.
In this case the investigation revealed that Kevin BOLLAERT is aiding and abetting the crime of PC 653m (b)-annoy or harass, by facilitating the publishing of nude photographs, in conjunction with the victim's name, Facebook page or other PII, without the victim's permission, which is the crime of identity theft in violation of Penal Code (PC) section 530.5.
Considering the large amount of attention "revenge porn" has been getting lately, and what seems to be a somewhat aggressive use of California's identity theft law, it will be interesting to see how this case progresses.Furthermore, Kevin BOLLAERT, by demanding and accepting payments to remove victims unauthorized posted nude images from UGOTPOSTED via changemyreputation.com is the crime of extortion in violation of Penal Code section 518. The publication of the victims nude images exposed them to disgrace within their public lives. Kevin BOLLAERT continued to expose the victims private information and secrets to the public -unless paid.