Archive for Involuntary Porn

Revenge Porn Site MyEx.com Sued For Copyright Infringement

Revenge porn site MyEx.com, along with Google and Yahoo!, has been sued for copyright infringement in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.  The complaint is below.  ((Although the plaintiff in this action has previously sued the now-defunct website Texxxan and is publicly known, I redacted her name from the complaint because her photos continue to be accessible on MyEx.com and appear to have been posted in retaliation for having sued Texxxan.))

MyEx.com is one of few remaining websites dedicated to so-called “revenge porn,” and is likely the largest website of its kind, hosting the nude photos of upwards of 6,000 men and women.  It has been the subject of increasing media attention and peripheral legal action, although the site itself has never been sued.  This week, a former NFL player was sued by his ex-wife, who alleged that he posted her nude photos to MyEx.com. Previously, a teacher at a Christian school lost her job after being posted on MyEx — and was later charged with filing a false police report in connection with the posting.

MyEx is purportedly operated by “Web Solutions, B.V.,” a company in the Netherlands that does not exist.  Rather, the site was created and continues to be operated by Americans in coordination with persons in the Philippines.

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Hunter Moore Pleads Not Guilty; Meet His Co-Defendant, Charlie “Gary” Evens

Hunter Moore, the so-called “revenge porn” progenitor, made his second court appearance on charges that he hired co-defendant Charles “Gary” Evens to access email accounts of five women in order to find and post their nude photos on his now-defunct website, IsAnyoneUp?

Hunter Moore's attorney, Robert Holley

Moore’s attorney, Robert Holley

With his parents in tow, Moore was arraigned on and sheepishly plead not-guilty to fifteen counts of violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 (unauthorized access to a protected computer, popularly referred to as ‘hacking’), 18 U.S.C. § 1028A (aggravated identity theft), 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy), and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (aiding and abetting).  His co-defendant, Charles Robert Evens, entered a not-guilty plea in January and was released on $60,000 bond.

In attendance at Moore’s arraignment was Dr. Charlotte Laws, widely credited with amassing the evidence and public pressure on law enforcement to act.

At his initial appearance in January, Moore was ordered to assist Federal agents in shutting down his online accounts and websites.  Moore is prohibited from having access to the internet, a computer, or a cell phone.  Moore was released from custody in January after posting a $100,000 unsecured appearance bond — that is, he and his parents have agreed to pay the government $100,000 if Moore skips town.

After the hearing, I waited outside for Moore, along with a camera crew from Inside Edition.  When Moore spotted us, he sprinted away, holding his backwards hat down, while his lawyer laughed.

Who is Charlie “Gary” Evens?

Charlie

Moore’s co-defendant, Charlie “Gary” Evens

Little is known about Moore’s co-defendant, Charlie Evens.  What is known paints a picture that contrasts greatly with Moore.  Where Moore welcomed his status as an internet villain, Evens is a more sympathetic defendant — although that’s not difficult.

A resident of the Los Angeles area and 2006 graduate of Notre Dame High School, he was a “skipper” on Disneyland’s jungle cruise ride before working for Deluxe Entertainment Studios as a Digital Asset Manager.  On the side, Evens produced and hosted a short-lived live comedy show (the creatively-named “Charlies’ Comedy Show“) featuring moderately well-known comedians.

Evens was convicted of driving under the influence in 2012 and remains on probation.

In May 2012, the Village Voice described in detail allegations that a “Gary Jones” was using social engineering tactics to access email accounts, and that Hunter Moore would post nude photos from those accounts.  ”Gary,” in a moment of empathy and self-pity, apologized to one victim and told her that he had just been arrested for his “3rd DUI” and was struggling with sobriety.  The email address disclosed in the Village Voice article appears to match that in the indictment against Moore and Evens.

Moore, responding to allegations that the sources of his nude catalog were more than just spurned ex-lovers, told the Village Voice:

“I’ve had tons of hackers give me shit,” he told me over the phone, insisting that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the same federal law that has shielded his site from prosecution all along, absolves him of legal responsibility. [...] “It always comes back on the hacker. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve paid people for content. I don’t give a fuck. You can say that. If I’ve paid for content, they have to submit the same [way] as the user. It would all fall back on the user.”

The law Moore cited in his armchair lawyering, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, generally protects websites and their owners from liability for content submitted by users.  However, Section 230 is expressly inapplicable to Federal criminal law, and is not a license-by-virtue-of-website to commit any criminal act under the sun.

The trial of Evens is scheduled to begin on March 25 before the Hon. Dolly M. Gee. There was some confusion over the date of Moore’s trial, but was tentatively set for April 8.  I plan to attend and report from the trial.  Moore has retained Robert M. Holley and Evens is represented by a Federal public defender. The public documents in the case are available here and here.

Revenge Porn Kingpin Hunter Moore Indicted on Federal Hacking Charges

According to this report from TIME Magazine’s Jessica K. Roy (who previously worked the revenge porn beat for Betabeat), revenge porn kingpin Hunter Moore has been indicted in connection with Federal hacking charges. The indictment reportedly includes 15 counts and also charges an alleged associate of Moore (Charles Evans), is reportedly in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles.  (I live a few blocks from the courthouse, so I’ll be attending any hearings in the matter.)

Moore has long been the subject of an FBI investigation concerning his hacking.  In previous tweets to me, Moore claimed to have been raided “6 times” in a since-deleted tweet.

The Los Angeles courthouse may be unfamiliar to Moore, but he’s previously been held in contempt by a judge there in a civil case, and owes over $300,000 in default judgments relating to his online activity.

Moore was due to DJ this weekend at Dim Mak Studios, a Los Angeles club.  Previous appearances at clubs around the country were cancelled due to protests.

Moore’s indictment is not yet on PACER, the public access website for federal court filings.

Update: The indictment (below) alleges that Moore told Evens, who he knew to be accessing e-mail accounts  (without authorization of the owner) to acquire nude photos, to “hack more” and “hack all week for me.”  Moore then paid Evens via PayPal and wire transfers, ostensibly for the photos.

Revenge Porn – Moore-Evens Indictment

Kevin Bollaert, Operator of Revenge Porn Site YouGotPosted Arrested, Charged With Extortion

The California Attorney General’s office today announced that Kevin Bollaert, one of the operators of now-defunct revenge porn site YouGotPosted, was arrested and charged in a San Diego state court with thirty-one felony counts of identity theft and extortion.  The complaint is here, but the arrest warrant contains much greater detail linking Bollaert to the site and its extortionate companion, “ChangeMyReputation.com”.  I wrote in some detail about the ties between Bollaert, YouGotPosted, and the “independent takedown” website “ChangeMyReputation” last December.

These are first criminal charges filed against the operator of a revenge porn site in the United States.  On first blush, although criminal law is by no means my forte, the complaint against Bollaert will be difficult to sustain: the Communications Decency Act bars certain state-level criminal charges against the operators of a website, assuming the identity theft charges treat Bollaert as the speaker (as opposed to the persons who provided the nude photos to him).  Whether the extortion charges are barred by the CDA is a more complicated question.

Notably, the complaint repeatedly references a co-conspirator, and the arrest warrant notes that the site’s other proprietor, Eric Chanson, asked that Bollaert not associate Chanson’s name with the site in July of 2013.  In August, Chanson told a Federal court that he had sold his share in the YouGotPosted enterprise to Bollaert in March. I am unaware of any information publicly available in July 2013 that would tie Chanson to the site, so it’s unclear why he would send such an email unless he were still somehow involved.

This is only the summit of Bollaert’s legal woes.  In September, Bollaert and his company, Blue Mist Media, were hit with a $300,000 default judgment by a Federal court in Michigan.

More on this story as it develops and I have time to analyze the complaint against Bollaert.

 

Revenge Porn’s Hunter Moore Ordered to Pay $30,103.39 to Storage Wars Star Brandi Passante

In June, reality television star Brandi Passante won a default judgment against Hunter Moore for, among other things, trademark infringement and defamation.  Moore, who bears a heavy crown as most hated person on the internet for attempting to legitimize revenge porn, had responded to the lawsuit only by — you don’t want to click this link at work or anywhere else — sending Passante’s lawyer a picture of his dick.  And, of course, quietly removing what he had claimed was a nude video of Passante (it wasn’t) after the judge suggested that the U.S. Marshals intervene.

After Moore ignored the lawsuit and lost by default — a curious legal strategy for a self-proclaimed millionaire — the judge awarded Passante $750, a sum Gawker labeled “paltry,” on the basis that Passante hadn’t demonstrated her actual damages.   The court also awarded Passante attorneys’ fees and suggested that she submit a declaration substantiating her actual damages.

While it remains to be seen whether Passante will describe how much the court should really give her, she did seek an order that Moore reimburse her for the attorneys’ fees.

The court obliged, awarding Passante $30,103.39 — the order after the jump.  Based on some rough calculations, that means Moore has now been ordered by various courts to pay $294,022.89, the lion’s share of resulting from James McGibney’s defamation lawsuit against Moore.

It’s unlikely that Moore has many assets, given that he can’t seem to find a lawyer to respond to any of these lawsuits.  Nevertheless, happy hunting, judgment creditors.

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Revenge Porn’s Hunter Moore Liable for Trademark Infringement, Fraud, Defamation in Brandi Passante Case

Hunter Moore, widely recognized as the progenitor of ‘revenge porn’, has been held liable by a Federal Court for trademark infringement, fraud, defamation, and other claims in Passante v. Moore.  Brandi Passante, star of “Storage Wars”, sued Moore after he posted a video purporting (falsely, as the court ruled) to show her performing sex acts. Moore failed to respond to the case, except to send Passante’s attorney a picture of his penis (NSFL) – and then quietly removed the offending content from his site.

Dick pics are not among the responsive pleadings permitted by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12.

In the court’s ruling (PDF), the judge issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Moore from re-posting the content and awarded Passante $750 in damages, plus attorney fees.  The court reasoned that only minimal statutory damages were available, absent a showing by Passante of her actual damages.  That doesn’t mean that Moore will only have to muster up $750 and be done with the matter: the court invited Passante to submit a new declaration establishing her actual damages.  Given that Passante was asking for $1.25 million in damages, Moore may still be on the hook for much more.

This is Moore’s second legal defeat.  The self-proclaimed ‘millionaire’ also failed to respond to a lawsuit by Bullyville’s James McGibney, to whom Moore now owes $250,000 for defamation.

But at least he has his cat.

Casey Meyering’s Revenge Porn Forum Rips off “TakedownHammer” Scam

One of the unfortunate aspects of revenge porn sites is that its creators, with few (if any) legitimate opportunities to profit via advertising, are often driven to extortionate “take down” scams.  Recognizing that the men and women depicted on the sites are desperate to have their pictures removed, the sites advertise “take down” services by “independent” or “third party” companies that offer to negotiate to have their nude photos removed.  Of course, these “take down” sites never disclose the fact that they’re operated by the same person running the revenge porn site, because that would start to sound a lot like extortion.

Take, for example, “WinByState,” a private forum (running VBulletin software) that allows users to view and submit “your ex-girlfriend, your current girlfriend, or any other girl that you might know.”  To get access, users are required to submit photos, but must agree that they have “the person(s) permission who is in the picture/video[.]”  If that were credible, few people would quarrel with the site — if people are comfortable with nude photos of themselves online, more power to them.

But if it were credible to claim that the people posted on the site are posted there with “permission,” why would the site advertise TakedownHammer.info, an “independent” and “third party” service that charges $250 to have photos removed?  If this sounds familiar, it’s because Craig Brittain operated the same scam using the same name — and the text of this site is largely ripped off of Brittain’s now-defunct TakedownHammer.com.

Nor is this “TakedownHammer” remotely independent of the revenge porn-esque forum “WinByState”, as the site claims.  A little digging into the ownership of both “WinByState” and “TakedownHammer.info” shows that both are owned (and apparently operated) by Casey Meyering of Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Hat missing.  Also: basic sense of decency.
If found, please return to Tulsa, OK.
No reward.

Casey Meyering, 27, is the drummer for Tulsa halfway-rock group FM Pilots, which, judging solely on their sound, have probably never actually glided through any sort of F.M. band.  Maybe A.M.

When he’s not offering drum lessons via his TulsaDrumLessons.com website or running the vBulletin-powered WinByState revenge porn forum, he seeks help in modifying the same version of vBulletin software used by WinByState and apparently runs CCBillForVBulletin.com, which provides a way to charge for memberships to vBulletin-powered websites.

Almost all of the above websites were at one point registered to Casey Meyering or “KC” of various false addresses in Beverly Hills, California.  (Get it? “KC”? Sigh.).  Several of the websites are registered to Meyering using a WCPuppets.com email address.  WCPuppets was once a porn site operated by Meyering which now redirects to revenge porn forum WinByState.  Each of the above websites is hosted on the same server (identified as mazda.icertified.net in the headers of the emails sent when people register for an account on WinByState), and almost all of the sites hosted on the server are linked via whois records to Meyering.  And here’s Meyering tweeting back and forth with iCertified, talking about his “mazda” server:

That might be enough to tie Meyering to the revenge porn forum, but what about the extortionate “TakedownHammer.info” site?  Not only is it hosted on the same “mazda” server, but Meyering used the same Google Wallet account for both his drum lessons site and the “take down” site.  That is, people who sign up for a drum lesson on Meyering’s drumming site will find that it lists their payment as going to “Takedown Hammer” at a fake address in Beverly Hills, California.

Now why would Meyering lie to his loyal customers about the nature and location of his business?  You can draw your own conclusions.  Shortly after I emailed Meyering asking for a comment (he never responded), his Twitter account was deleted.

Revenge pornographers don’t get much clumsier than this.  And it’s a good thing, too.  While the legality of revenge porn is the subject of much public debate, and law enforcement is unlikely to address the borderline-extortion perpetrated by sites such as Meyering’s, those running these sites can and should be exposed and criticized for their harmful acts.  They hide their identities for a reason: so that they can expose, shame, and unethically take money from others without worrying about it disrupting their own lives too much.

But Google has a long — and unforgiving — memory.

UPDATE (February 14, 2014): Meyering has been arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma on five felony counts of extortion in California.

His video, above, has now been deleted, so here’s a photo of him, which I will gladly remove for the low-low price of free drum lessons for a year.  (Just kidding, I wouldn’t delete this ever.)

meyering2

And here are screenshots of Winbystate’s rules for submitting nude photos and the fraudulent “Takedown Hammer” website.

Craig Brittain “Shuts Down” IsAnybodyDown, Renames it “ObamaNudes.com”

Yesterday, revenge porn’s Craig Brittain announced on Twitter that he was ending his site, IsAnybodyDown.com (synopsis here).  Many (myself included) interpreted that to mean that Brittain was shutting down his site.  And with tweets like these, wouldn’t you?:

Alas, it appears that Brittain was being disingenuous: he’s merely renamed the site to ObamaNudes.com — and wants more money.

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IsAnybodyDown: Craig Brittain’s 2005 Harassment Charge Unsurprisingly Predictive

Craig Brittain’s revenge porn site, IsAnybodyDown.com, might have been an unremarkable ripoff of Hunter Moore’s “Is Anyone Up?” site if not for “David Blade III, Esq.”  Blade was an invention of Craig Brittain, a fake attorney created to add an aura of legitimacy to Brittain’s extortionate scheme:  post nude photos along with full names, social media profiles, and phone numbers, then charge victims $250 to have them removed.

Nor was “David Blade” Brittain’s only only online impersonation.  I theorized that Brittain’s efforts went a step further: pretend to be a Craigslist user arranging a sexual encounter, then take the photos and post them to IsAnybodyDown.  That theory proved true when CBS Denver turned up emails bearing Brittain’s IP address, showing that he pretended to be a “Jess Davis” to solicit nude photos, using the photos of one of his victims.

Brittain maintains that “David Blade” is real (or, at least, was created by somebody else) and that all of the photos on IsAnybodyDown come from users of the site — not him.  According to Brittain, the allegations are a “fabrication” by attorney Marc Randazza (and other Brittain critics) to make money off of his site.  Or something.  Brittain says that “[t]here is no truth to it at all.  These women are told to lie by their attorneys.”

But allegations in a 2005 harassment charge and restraining order naming Brittain are unsurprisingly predictive of his future behavior: impersonating people on the internet in an effort to harm women online and offline.

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Hunter Moore’s ‘Fortunes’ Threatened by Self-Imposed Legal Misfortunes

Revenge kingpin Hunter Moore, a self-proclaimed “millionaire,” has been hit by two default judgments after failing to defend himself in two lawsuits against him.

The first involves Storage Wars celebrity Brandi Passante, who sued Moore for posting a video that Moore asserted was a sex tape of Passante.  Her complaint (PDF), filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, asserted causes of action for trademark infringement, privacy torts, defamation, and consumer fraud, alleging that Moore’s video was false and designed to trade upon her commercial likeness.  Passante also sought and received a preliminary injunction requiring Moore to remove the video.

Moore’s response to the suit and injunction was to send Passante’s lawyer a picture of his penis (NSFW, obviously) in lieu of hiring a lawyer to defend his considerable ‘ass’ets.  This well-considered legal strategy went predictably: Passante convinced the judge to hold Moore in contempt for disobeying the injunction.  Moore, faced with the prospect of being haled into California accompanied by U.S. Marshals armed with a bench warrant, quietly removed the video from his website.

Moore has since remained quiet publicly about the suit.  While a clerk’s entry of default has been entered against him in the case, Passante’s lawyer has informed the court that settlement negotiations are ongoing.  Negotiating with a plaintiff while you’re in default is an ideal bargaining position.  Bravo, Mr. Moore.

The second case is more interesting.

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