(This post is part of a series of investigative pieces attempting to identify the owners of “revenge porn” websites.)
WhozaCunt.com: The Revenge Porn Site Down Under
WhozaCunt.com is a revenge porn site “dedicated to helping you get even with bitches and assholes and give them what’s coming to them! [...] Make them famous – they deserve it!” Having posted the nude photos of men and women against their will, the site subjects its victims to a bizarre ‘takedown’ ritual. The site’s takedown policy requires victims themselves (and not a lawyer or family member) to provide a copy of their photo ID, another photo of the victim to prove they’re making the request, “proof” of the date the images were taken, and a “counter declaration,” without elaborating what the victim is supposed to declare.
When victims complained, the site would post their full emails, along with their photo IDs, and state opaquely that they had failed to comply with the takedown process.
Some victims of the site assert, credibly, that they were under the age of 18 in the photos featured on Whozacunt.com. For example, one victim circled some, but not all, of the nude photos in her profile, to indicate which ones were taken while she was underage. Whozacunt refused to remove the profile or any of the photos and instead re-posted the circled photos.
When challenged, the site takes an aggressive stance to increase the humiliation of its victims. One woman and her parents complained to the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, alleging that Whozacunt.com was refusing to remove nude photos of somebody else (and posted under the victim’s name). The day after Whozacunt.com received a letter from the Consumer Protection Division, a new site arose using a domain consisting of the young woman’s full name, along with her nude photos.
Who could be this cruel? A guy who cares more about cruelty to pigeons than cruelty to people.
Meet Mark Stafford, The Professional Pigeon Racer
Mark Harold Stafford is a graying website designer residing in Tocumwal, a small town on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales, Australia. Stafford may also reside in Melboure, the capitol of Victoria — a state which has criminalized revenge porn.
Stafford was, at one time, a professional pigeon racer. ((I wish I were clever enough to have made this up.)) Stafford’s company, Australian Pigeon Racing Inc., sold whatever it is that pigeon racers buy through a series of websites. Stafford eventually gave up pigeon racing after having a change of heart (and, apparently, an investigation for tax evasion involving his pigeon racing enterprise.) On a site registered to Stafford, his writing evolved from supporting “the pigeon fancy fraternity of Australia” to bemoaning the cruelty of Australian pigeon racing and listing the “vexatious persons” who had “repeatedly defamed me [...] from behind the anonymity of” various pigeon racing forums. ((Stafford’s site also rejoiced in the traffic he was receiving from the forums he criticized. Similarly, “WhozaCunt” dared me to post about their site because of the traffic it would receive. Too bad I have only two regular readers.))
Seriously, those exist.
Stafford also dabbles in photography and depicting degrading stereotypes of aboriginal Australians, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Reached via email, Stafford denied, among other things, knowing anything about WhozaCunt.com:
I know nothing about such a website. How dare you write such an accusatory email to me, using such terrible language.
I do not own such a website and I don’t know anybody who does or even would. I do not know who “Gonzo Dave” is. I have never operated a porn site. I have never taken nude photos of anybody, ever! I certainly have not ever taken a photo which were posted to that website.
I don’t believe that Stafford is telling the truth for a variety of reasons.
Technical Data Links Stafford’s Personal and Business Sites to “WhozaCunt” and Other Adult Properties
My investigation began by analyzing WHOIS and hosting/nameserver records relating to WhozaCunt.com. The WHOIS data indicated that the site was owned by “Renfrey Sherwood”, a name only used in connection with the registration of adult domains, including GonzoDave.com. The nameserver used by WhozaCunt.com, crawfs.com, was also registered to “Renfrey Sherwood.”
Tracking the websites that use or used crawfs.com also revealed that all of the websites on the server hosting Whozacunt.com also used crawfs.com as a nameserver. Only fourteen websites were hosted on the same server as Whozacunt, including Stafford’s business and personal websites, which also used the crawfs.com nameserver. (Stafford’s personal and business sites used Crawfs.com as a nameserver until February 10, 2014 — the day I first emailed him.) What’s more is that crawfs.com at one point redirected to Whozacunt.com.
Where there is commonality of nameservers, WHOIS records, and the same server, as here, that’s generally an indication that the websites in question are owned — or at least operated — by the same person or entity. But could it be that Stafford, a professional web developer, was simply hosting these adult sites (including WhozaCunt.com) on behalf of a client, and that the presence of his business and personal sites on the same server and nameserver was mere coincidence?
I doubt it.
First, ownership records (or other links) to each of these sites could be linked to Stafford, suggesting that he was operating each of the sites under commingled pseudonyms: “Gonzo Dave”, “Renfrey Sherwood”, and Claire H. At best, the evidence shows that Stafford knows who was operating the site, but it strongly indicates that he, himself, is “Gonzo Dave” and runs Whozacunt.com.
Second, the CSS code (code used on a website to create its design) on WhozaCunt.com was nearly identical to that used on Stafford’s personal and business sites (as well as on the “Gonzo Dave” sites). This code does not appear to be the result of using a common content management system (e.g., WordPress), but rather code used by the same designer. This suggests that the same person who designed Stafford’s business and personal sites also designed WhozaCunt.com.
In sum, the evidence suggests that, contrary to Stafford’s assertions that he knows “nothing” about the website, he at a minimum is connected to it, likely designed it, and probably runs it himself. Of course, the only way to know whether he runs the site would be if he admitted as much. Until then, the evidence speaks for itself, and his demonstrably false denials can inform us whether he should be believed in whole.
Meet Mark Stafford’s Alter-Ego, “Gonzo Dave”
In order to understand how Stafford is linked to “Whozacunt”, you first have to understand “Gonzo Dave.” Gonzo Dave bills himself as the “world’s dirtiest, dirty old man” across a series of adult websites, many bearing this caricature:
The connections between “Gonzo Dave” and Whozacunt.com/Mark Stafford include:
- Whozacunt.com gave prominent advertising placement to various Gonzo Dave websites, and Gonzo Dave websites linked prominently to Whozacunt. None of these links included affiliate IDs or any traffic-tracking mechanism. ((Most adult sites trade traffic in two ways. The first way tracks the amount of traffic sent by a website: the more traffic a site sends, the more likely it is to get better page placement on the site it’s sending traffic to. The second way is to pay for advertising. That method also usually keeps track of the amount of traffic in order to determine pay-per-click or pay-per-impression rates. Admittedly, it’s not entirely unheard of for sites to share links without keeping track, but most webmasters doing so are likely to have a close relationship with one another.))
- The “Gonzo Dave” user on adult webmasters’ forum GFY.com listed his location as Australia. In one post, “Gonzo Dave” said he preferred “paradise on the Murray.” Mark Stafford’s address in the city of Tocumwal is a few hundred yards from the Murray River, and one of Stafford’s photography portfolios (which, until recently, listed its owner as “Mark Stafford” of “OZWWWEB” — Stafford’s web design business) includes photos of the Murray.
- In another GFY.com post, “Gonzo Dave” posted an email from an adult affiliate network which disclosed the affiliate identification name used in connection with Gonzo Dave’s advertising: OZWWWEB — the same as Stafford’s web design studio.
Claire H.: Tying It All Back Together
A second name connected to Whozacunt.com, Gonzo Dave, and Stafford’s business site is Claire H. ((Although I am unsure why Claire H.’s name is used repeatedly in connection with Stafford’s sites, she is a real person and I suspect that the use of her name was non-consensual. Claire H. does not reside in Australia. Because I believe that she was a victim of Stafford’s site, I am redacting references to her name, as I do with all victims.)):
- Claire H.’s nude photos were among the first content posted to Whozacunt.com, and her name was kept at the top of an alphabetical list of people pictured on the site, suggesting that she was the target of unwelcome attention from the site’s owner.
- The email address used by Whozacunt.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, uses Claire H.’s name.
- A domain name using Claire H.’s name previously hosted “Gonzo Dave” content. This site is hosted on the same server as Whozacunt.com.
- Claire H. was listed as the technical contact for Stafford’s business site, OZWWWEB.com.au, and Stafford was listed as the owner.
- A racist website mocking aboriginal Australians, “WesleyLikesGoon.com“, was once linked to by Stafford’s personal website. At one point, Stafford’s personal site consisted entirely of WesleyLikesGoon material. WHOIS records of WesleyLikesGoon.com listed “Elizabeth Stafford” as the owner. Public records indicate that an “EA Stafford” lives with Mark Stafford in Tocumwal. ((I have no idea whether “Elizabeth Stafford” was aware of Mark Stafford’s “WesleyLikesGoon” website or the use of her name in connection with it.)) The email address used in the WHOIS records incorporated Claire H.’s name.
- Claire H.’s name and a hotmail.com email address using her name are associated with the WHOIS information for a Gonzo Dave website.
- The same hotmail.com address was used by “Gonzo Dave” in a post to adult webmasters’ site GFY.com.
- Another Claire H. email address is associated with this “Gonzo Dave” Facebook profile. The education listed on that Facebook profile (Swinburne University of Technology, 1980, and Melbourne Grammar School, 1973) is identical to that listed on Mark Stafford’s LinkedIn profile. ((I’d endorse Stafford on LinkedIn for the talent of “Leaving A Trail of Breadcrumbs Everywhere” if he hadn’t deleted his profile after I emailed him.))
Stafford’s Adult Photography
Nor is Stafford credible in his other denials. While he maintains that he has “never taken nude photos of anybody,” a ModelMayhem.com profile linked to Stafford suggest otherwise. That profile (since deleted) used an avatar consisting of a photo of Stafford with the name of his hometown, Tocumwal. Photos posted by the ModelMayhem user repeatedly listed Stafford as the copyright owner, including this topless photo of adult model Cierra Spice. ((I’m unsure whether Stafford actually took the photo or is simply claiming another photographer’s work as his own.))
Mark Stafford, Pigeonholed, Tries To Fly The Coop
Perhaps the starkest indication that Stafford was behind Whozacunt was what he did when I contacted him. The same day I first asked him questions about the site, ((I already knew the answers to the questions I asked him. I just wanted to see if he would lie. He did.)) his personal and business sites were transferred to another server. When I followed up with a detailed list of the evidence linking him to the site, two things happened within 48 hours:
First, much of the content I sent to Stafford was suddenly deleted, including the “Gonzo Dave” caricature on GFY.com (deleted), LinkedIn profile (deleted), and ModelMayhem profile (deleted). His Redbubble.com profile was edited to erase his name and reference to running OZWWWEB. These acts indicate that Stafford had control over much, if not all, of the evidence I showed him, including content related to “Gonzo Dave.”
Many thanks to those supporters who have contacted Whozacunt. We have a new owner and operator. This means that Whozacunt will continue, but in good time – however, some changes do need to be made before the site comes back online.
In the meantime we still welcome your words of support and submissions at whozacun at gmail.com and via the submit page [...]
Please stay with us and do check back from time to time. We’ll be back!
I’m not saying that it’s impossible that Stafford found a “new owner and operator” for his revenge porn site within two days. But question whether a guy who lied about his involvement in the site would lie about his continued involvement in the site.
Had Stafford read the writing on the wall and deleted Whozacunt.com without elaboration, I doubt I’d have written anything about him. But, at best, Stafford his shown a remorseless intent that his site continue, and the site continues to invite submission of new content. He’s just burying evidence linking him to the site.
Too little, too late.