Kevin Bollaert, Creator of a “Revenge Porn” Website, Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

images copy 6By Elaine Magliaro

Last Friday, Kamala D. Harris, California’s Attorney General, announced that Kevin Christopher Bollaert, “the operator of a cyber-exploitation website which posted nude photos of individuals with personal identifying information without their consent, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.” This is reportedly the first criminal prosecution of a cyber-exploitation website operator in this country.

Bollaert, a resident of San Diego, created and operated a “revenge porn” website called ugotposted.com, “which allowed the anonymous, public posting of private photographs containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission.” Personal information about the individuals was also posted along with the photographs.

According to the Associated Press, more than 10,000 images, mainly of women, were posted between December 2012 and September 2013. AP said that individuals “who sought to have the explicit images taken down were directed to changemyreputation.com and charged $250 to $350 to remove the racy content.”

Associated Press:

Victims included teachers, wives and professionals. The compromising photos cost people jobs, damaged relationships and led to one attempted suicide.

NBC San Diego reported that Bollaert was “convicted of identity theft and extortion after posting more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos of women to his so-called ‘revenge porn’ website…” NBC said, “The sentencing of Kevin Bollaert ended an all-day hearing where a number of victims told of the humiliation inflicted by his website. Bollaert burst into tears as he listened to testimony from his mother and victims.”

Office of the Attorney General California Department of Justice:

An investigation conducted by Attorney General Harris and the Department of Justice found that from December 2012 to approximately September 2013, Bollaert created the website ugotposted.com, which allowed the anonymous, public posting of private photographs containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission. Commonly known as revenge porn, the photos are typically obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship or are stolen or hacked. Unlike many other revenge porn websites where the subject of the photos is anonymous, ugotposted.com required that the poster include the subject’s full name, location, age and Facebook profile link. As a result, the victims experienced severe harassment through social media, at their places of work and in other communities.

Bollaert created a second website, changemyreputation.com, in October 2012, which he used when individuals contacted ugotposted.com requesting that content be removed from the site. Bollaert would extort victims by replying with a changemyreputation.com email address and offering to remove the content for a fee ranging from $250 to $350, which could be paid using an online PayPal account referenced in the emails. Bollaert told investigators that he made around $900 per month from advertising on the site and records obtained from his changemyreputation.com PayPal account indicate that he received payments totaling approximately $30,000.

SOURCES

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces 18 Year Prison Sentence for Cyber-Exploitation Website Operator (State of California Department of Justice)

Kevin Bollaert, Revenge-Porn Site Operator, Sentenced To 18 Years (Huffington Post/AP)

“Revenge Porn” Defendant Sentenced to 18 Years (NBC San Diego)

 

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7 Responses to Kevin Bollaert, Creator of a “Revenge Porn” Website, Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

  1. It is about time. I had been only vaguely aware prosecutors were pursuing charges against this guy, but didn’t know it had actually come to trial. Hope it sends a message to other would-be online extortionists. 18 years sounds about right. Wonder when his RED comes available (Release Eligibility Date)? Few inmates make parole on the first RED.

    His face is all over the Internet now. His record will follow him the rest of his life. Wonder how he likes them apples? Nah! I don’t have to wonder. Karma can be a bitch.

  2. Mike Spindell says:

    Didn’t stuff like this used to be known as blackmail and extortion.

  3. blouise says:

    Now the Attorney General needs to trace the IP’s of the individual anonymous posters so that victims can pursue civil actions. Criminal charges would be nice but would probably be multistage and thus far too expensive

  4. Elaine M. says:

    Revenge porn site owner sentenced to 18 years in prison
    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150405-revenge-porn-site-owner-sentenced-to-18-years-in-prison.ece

    Excerpt:
    Since Bollaert’s site was shut down in December 2013, the fight against revenge porn has made significant strides, legally and socially. To start, it’s not as easy to get private photos off the Internet as you might expect. Website owners are not legally responsible for content posted on their sites by users because of a law called the Communications Decency Act.

    But that’s changing.

    Bollaert was operating from California, one of 17 states that now has a law aimed at punishing so-called revenge porn — when a former romantic interest publicly posts privately shared images as an act of vengeance — as well as explicit images obtained in other ways from being posted without a subject’s consent.

    Bollaert was arrested two months after the law went into effect, although he was eventually charged with identity theft and extortion. California’s law, like other anti-revenge porn laws working their way through state legislatures, makes it a criminal act to distribute sexually explicit images without permission to cause emotional distress, even if the subject of the picture agreed to be photographed.

    A similar fate met Hunter Moore, who was arrested by the FBI this year for his infamous site IsAnyoneUp.com. He pleaded guilty and faces up to seven years in prison and fines of half a million dollars.

    Prominent anti-revenge porn activist Charlotte Laws has been gathering women whose photos were posted on Moore’s site to speak at his sentencing, in hopes that he will receive the full sentence. In an interview on Sunday, she said the punishment Bollaert now faces (a minimum of 10 years before he is eligible for parole) is more appropriate for the severity of the crime.

  5. Elaine M. says:

    Al Franken Urges FBI to Crack Down on Revenge Porn
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/al-franken-urges-fbi-to-crackdown-on-revenge-porn-20150403

    Excerpt:
    Lawmakers in Congress have been reticent to weigh in directly on revenge porn, despite the growth of the industry in recent years. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, has for the past year been working on a bill that would criminalize revenge porn, but no bill has yet been introduced.

    Open-Internet advocates generally oppose legislation that would expand criminal penalties to allow authorities to go after operators of revenge-porn websites. At the heart of the debate is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally protects websites such as YouTube from being legally liable for the third-party content. Exceptions are made for copyrighted material and content that violates certain federal criminal law, such as child porn, but websites still are able to avoid liability if they adopt reasonable takedown policies.

    Absent federal action, several states have passed revenge porn laws of their own that make the practice a crime.

    Franken applauded technology companies for becoming increasingly diligent in policing against revenge porn, citing recent steps taken by Twitter and reddit to make such content easier to flag and remove.

    “I am hopeful that these recent developments and the increased public attention to the problem will lead to a more concentrated federal effort to combat this growing threat to Americans’ privacy and safety.”

  6. Angelo White says:

    The name of this guy’s website ‘ugotposted’ already showed what his plans were.

    Kevin does deserve some a long ‘vacation’ in a prison cell, but the full 18 years is too extreme for the crime. (parole after 10 years). I think that most violent crimes(murderers or rapists) get away with less time, unless I got it wrong. Most likely the extortion of these victims made his sentence so hard and they probably also want to prevent other copycats like myex, http://theporndude.com/ ,… to continue staying online, since this guy was earning easy money ($30k+) with his ‘business scheme’.

    Revenge porn is not going to disappear by introducing this new law, since ex-boyfriends share their ex-gf pictures in a state of ‘rage’, but it’s good that future victims can take them to court from now on, although once your material is posted online, it’s difficult to get it offline.

    Woudn’t it be better to do more about prevention in schools? How about educating girls about this in sex education class? If they are informed about the possible consequences of sending nude pics, then maybe they won’t do it?

    • Mike Spindell says:

      “Woudn’t it be better to do more about prevention in schools? How about educating girls about this in sex education class? If they are informed about the possible consequences of sending nude pics, then maybe they won’t do it?”

      Angelo,

      I would go further and say that all schools should be provided sex education, then perhaps we could cut down on most of the problems that come from sexuality. I don’t mean abstinence.

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