Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces 18 Year Prison Sentence for Cyber-Exploitation Website Operator
LOS ANGELES— Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today 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 case is the first criminal prosecution of a cyber-exploitation website operator in the country.
“Today’s sentence makes clear there will be severe consequences for those that profit from the exploitation of victims online,” said Attorney General Harris. “Sitting behind a computer, committing what is essentially a cowardly and criminal act will not shield predators from the law or jail. We will continue to be vigilant and investigate and prosecute those who commit these deplorable acts.”
In February 2015, Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, of San Diego, was found guilty on 6 counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft.
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.
Bollaert’s arrest arose from a six-month investigation by the California Attorney General’s eCrime unit. Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit in 2011 to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.
In February 2014, Attorney General Harris announced the arrest of Casey E. Meyering, 28, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who operated the website WinByState.com. He was charged with 5 counts of felony extortion and is currently awaiting trial on June 8, 2015.