Revenge porn operator facing charges of conspiracy, extortion and identity theft

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Privacy

Heart with pins. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.A 27-year-old man based in San Diego, California, faces prison after being charged with 31 felonies related to the publication of 10,000 explicit photographs sent in by the victims' ex-partners.

Kevin Bollaert was arrested today for running 'revenge porn' website ugotposted.com and is currently being held in prison on $50,000 bail.

In a press release, Kamala D. Harris, California's Attorney General, said:

This website published intimate photos of unsuspecting victims and turned their public humiliation and betrayal into a commodity with the potential to devastate lives. Online predators that profit from the extortion of private photos will be investigated and prosecuted for this reprehensible and illegal internet activity.

Prosecutors allege that Bollaert was running the revenge site, which has now been taken down, in conjunction with another site called changemyreputation.com.

The Attorney General's office alleges that when Bollaert received complaints on the main website, he would then send an email directing victims to changemyreputation.com where they would be directed to pay a fee of between $299 and $350 in order to have their photos removed.

According to court documents Bollaert allegedly told investigators that he received around $900 per month in advertising revenue from the site.

PayPal records indicate that changemyreputation.com received payments totalling tens of thousands of dollars.

Unlike other revenge porn sites where photos are published anonymously, those who found their very personal images features on ugotposted.com had even more reason to get their saucy pics removed from Bollaert's site.

According to the Attorney General, ugotposted.com required that any images posted on the site were accompanied by the subject's full name, age, location and even a link to their Facebook profile.

According to the arrest warrant, the victims, who all appear to be female, were unsurprisingly upset that their photos and personal details had been published on ugotposted.

Legal Analyst Victoria Terry related the case of Jane Doe #6 who said that an unknown person had illegally obtained access to her email account and found nude images she had saved there.

The Jane Doe also claimed that her Facebook account was illegally accessed and that the photographs were sent to her relatives. She also claimed that her passwords for Facebook, AOL and Gmail were changed.

Far more concerning, however, is the fact that she claims that the photos, published on ugotposted without her knowledge or consent, may have been taken when she was still a minor.

A search warrant executed on ugotposted's gmail account allowed investigators to retrieve messages sent by many alleged victims, including Jane Doe #6 who wrote:

PLEASE HELP! I am scared for my life! People are calling my work place and they obtained that information through this site! I did not give permission for anyone to put up those pictures or my personal information. I have contacted the police but these pictures need to come down! Please!

All in all, investigators discovered that over 2,000 emails had been sent to the yougotposted email account with around 50% of the messages containing the word “remove” in them.

Victims often struggle to prosecute those behind the likes of ugostposted.com, labelled 'revenge porn' sites because content is more often than not uploaded by jilted ex-lovers.

This is because, in the US at least, those who run the sites can sometimes claim protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which gives site owners a legal get out in respect of user-submitted content.

Bolleart's alleged mistake in this respect was that he crossed the lines of state laws against identity theft which prohibit the posting of personally identifying information "for any unlawful purpose, including with the intent to annoy or harass."

In a meeting with Brian Cardwell, Bollaert stated that he had now shut the site down voluntarily, saying that:

At the beginning, it was fun and entertaining, but now it's just like ruining my life.

Perhaps realising that ugostposted.com had left victims feeling much the same, albeit minus the fun and entertainment, he said:

Yeah, I realize like this is not a good situation. 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.


Image of heart courtesy of Shutterstock.

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10 Responses to Revenge porn operator facing charges of conspiracy, extortion and identity theft

  1. Topi · 128 days ago

    Really? He's just realized it's not a good situation? He would not feel this way if he had not been caught.

  2. Guest · 128 days ago

    "It's just like ruining my life."

    Ah, how nice to see the lying psychopathic bully pretend to be a victim.

    "I feel bad about the whole thing and like I just don't want to do it anymore."

    The psychopath does not feel badly because he victimized others. Rather, he feels badly for himself because he got caught.

    The older I get, the more I realize there are only two people in the world whom you (especially you women) can reasonably trust. Assuming you have or had a decent set of parents (as I fortunately did), their names are Mom and Dad.

    Sophos, what can be done in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere to trace hacking and cyberbullying crimes to their real source(s) and to prosecute said source(s) more easily? Governmental agencies apparently know what almost everyone is doing in real time. As such, I do not understand why U.S. federal and state laws subject victims of hacking and cyberbulling to a high burden of proof. I know almost nothing about computer science, but surely some bright minds out there can accurately trace almost anything in the virtual world in a matter of days rather than months or years?

    • 4caster · 127 days ago

      I agree, Guest and Topi. But regrettably governmental agencies care little about personal privacy laws, except to conceal evidence when they have broken those laws themselves.

    • Dr. Fuzznot · 126 days ago

      "Tracing" isn't always a simple task. The use of proxies, or hacked computers to cover your tracks can complicate things quite a bit.

      With all the hacking and cyber bullying going on in the world, it would be much too easy to set somebody up with those kinds of crimes if there was no 'high burden of proof.' You need to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in question was the one committing the crime. A simple trace to origin isn't enough, as it could be a hacker or your friend or anybody else that did it.

  3. Anonymous · 127 days ago

    He sure doesn't seem very resentful for it. And I'm sure he's not, I agree with the other people, he's just sorry he got caught. And if you noticed, using the word "like" a lot can usually indicate that something is being fabricated-in other words he's making it up to make it not seem so bad.

    He doesn't care that it was ruining other peoples' lives and hurting their reputations. I hope the victims can recover fully from this. Any why was the one victim taking nude pictures as a minor anyway?

    Let this be a lesson, don't keep or take nude pictures of yourself or others.

    • Guest · 127 days ago

      Indeed. Psychopaths always downplay the harm they inflict upon others. No surprise there.

  4. herzco · 127 days ago

    Just the fact that these sites exist at all (I am sure more will pop up now that these two are gone) just boggles the mind.

    I know I am pulling out the "gender card" here but I sincerely think that, had the situation been reversed and men were being bullied and having images of them send to relatives and their personal info being given out, that a response to the problem might have been swifter.

    • Steve · 127 days ago

      I disagree. I believe that if the genders were reversed, the male victims would find less sympathy, with many women taking the view that, "well, they probably deserved it."

    • Revenge porn sites are not exclusive to women, men are listed too.

  5. herzco · 127 days ago

    Does anyone know what the jail time is for something like this? This type of crime is so new and I saw no mention of the punishment in this article.

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.