criminalcomputer

Revenge Porn Site Owner Faces Multiple Felony Charges

Add Your Comments

The owner of a “revenge porn” site is facing multiple felony charges including including 28 counts of identity theft, two counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy.

“Revenge porn” is the catchall term for video clips and photos taken by callous exes, supposedly as “revenge” for their failed relationships, but it can take the form of media stolen from hacked accounts and hidden cameras. Another key element of revenge porn is finding out the identity of those in the photos and videos, and alerting family, friends, employers and other community members to their existence via email, phone calls, social media, and even in person.

Kevin Bollaert, the owner of a now-defunct website “Ugotposted” which hosted more than 10,000 posts – many of which included private images and identifying information like social media accounts.

The criminal complaint against Bollaert (PDF) details the investigation of Brian Cardwell, an eCrime specialist for the California Department of Justice.

When a victim inquired about removing the images from Ugotposted, they would typically not receive a response. In Cardwell’s search, he found that the public email address associated with Ugotposted had received more than 1,000 messages that contained the word “remove” between June 20, 2013 and August 26, 2013. Some take down request notes included the terms “emotional distress”, “great stress in my work and personal life”, “defamation of character”, and “underage photos”.

Ugotposted did, however, provide a link to to another website that promised to remove images from Ugotposted for a fee. Some have reported paying around $250 to remove images. This website, “changemyreputation.com”, was created by Bollaert and his former business partner Eric Chanson. For this, Bollaert will be facing charges of extorting a total of around $10,000 from Ugotposted victims.

For victims of revenge porn, it’s important that they act quickly before the photos spread. Various online communities were created for the purpose of exchanging information on how to get these photos taken offline – and even to air frustrations. One of them took the form of a WordPress.com page called“How to Remove Photos From YouGotPosted.com”.

Those trying to get photos taken down had been trying with varying success to contact upsteam providers who have a responsibility when notified to take down photos that are illegal or in breach of copyright.

In early 2013, those requesting their photos taken down from Softlayer, which was listed as the web hosts, were being told that Luxemborg web host root S.A. had taken over Ugotposted’s hosting. It is unclear what actions root S.A. took to remove illegal content from its network.

Network provider Cloud Flare, which offered a reverse proxy, pass-through security service to Ugotposted, fielded a number of complaints which it seemed to send the legitimate requests to Ugotposted, according to posts. It appears that some of these requests successfully persuaded Ugotposted to take down photos, perhaps at the threat of service termination.

In the case of revenge porn site IsAnyoneUp.com, for instance, Black Lotus was able to block specific content in its proxy, making it mostly inaccessible, and making it clear that circumvention of this measure would result in termination of service.

While the legal system is responding to revenge porn with due seriousness, upsteam providers seem to be the quickest bodies to act to protect victims.

About the Author

David Hamilton is a Toronto-based technology journalist who has written for the National Post and other news outlets. He has covered the hosting industry internationally for the Web Host Industry Review with particular attention to innovative hosting solutions and the issues facing the industry. David is a graduate of Queen’s University and the Humber College School of Media Studies.

Add Your Comments

  • (will not be published)