Tag 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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Casey E. Meyering of Tulsa, OK Arrested in Connection With Revenge Porn Site ‘WinByState’

Casey Meyering booking photo

Casey Meyering’s booking photo, courtesy KTVU.

Casey E. Meyering was arrested yesterday in Tulsa, Oklahoma in connection with his revenge porn site ‘WinByState’.  Meyering faces five counts of extortion in California for requiring victims of his website to pay $250 to have nude photos removed from his website.  Meyering utilized a website, “TakedownHammer.info,” to create the impression that money was being sent to an independent company, as opposed to the owner of the revenge porn site.

I exposed Meyering’s fraudulent practice in June.  The Los Angeles Times reports that Meyering is resisting extradition to California.  Per his arrest report, below, Meyering was found in a Tulsa hotel room and resisted arrest.

Meyering was previously known in Tulsa as the drummer of local band FM Pilots.  Reached for comment, the band says:

None of us knew about his involvement in revenge porn. He was terminated for other reasons. This is all very big shock. He hasn’t been playing for quite some time.

Meyering is the second revenge porn site owner to face extortion charges in California.   Kevin Bollaert, who operated YouGotPosted, was arrested on thirty-one felony counts in December and is awaiting trial.  Revenge porn kingpin Hunter Moore was arrested on federal ‘hacking’ charges in January. Nobody, including Meyering, has been charged under California’s new revenge porn law, at least in part because the Communications Decency Act prohibits many state-level criminal charges against website owners.

Meyering’s arrest demonstrates that the California Attorney General’s office is serious about pursuing extortionate revenge porn site owners — Bollaert’s arrest was not a one-off.  It also shows that California authorities are happy to travel across the country to seek out their targets.

A source familiar with Meyering told me over the summer:

He has seen your blog… and said any publicity is good publicity.

I guess not.  Updates as this story develops.  Meyering’s arrest report is below.

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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.

An Involuntary Porn Site and its Deceptive “Reputation Management” Site, ChangeMyReputation.com

YouGotPosted.com is an involuntary porn site similar to IsAnybodyDown.com in more than its content: it’s taking a page from Craig Brittain’s playbook: they destroy your reputation by posting your nude photos, name, and hometown so that it’s easily found whenever someone Googles your name.  And they’ll keep destroying your reputation — but here’s an advertisement for a company that will negotiate with them to get your photos taken down. For a fee.

Except that the ‘reputation’ or ‘takedown’ company isn’t exactly independent.  It’s likely coordinated by the people posting those nude photos.

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Anonymous Targets IsAnybodyDown.com, which Chance Trahan Claims He Doesn’t Run

A few brief updates about involuntary porn site IsAnybodyDown.com and its “Takedown Hammer” scheme.  If you’re just joining us, a synopsis of the IsAnybodyDown.com controversy is here.

[Update: Chance Trahan responds at length [PDF].  He denies running the site and says that talking about him is cybersquatting, among other things. More below.]

[Update 1/7/2013: Chance deleted the above post (though here's a copy [PDF]) and replaced it with a new response.  It’s a copy/paste of this post edited to tell his side of the story.  Chance Trahan says that the “David Blade” / “Takedown Hammer” site is, alternatively, a “parody” or a “third party hiree.”  Chance says he only designed the site, its logos, and created its Facebook account — the idea and content are Craig’s.  Chance also maintains his claim that speaking negatively about or to him (without his permission) is “harassment” and “cybersquatting,” and that those criticizing him were hired to do so.  Chance also commented on this post, below]

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IsAnybodyDown Part ???: Applicability of Section 230 of the CDA

With news outlets starting to pick up the IsAnybodyDown story (an overview is here) — among them Ars Technica and the Daily Dot – one misconception should be headed off at the pass: the site’s creators are not likely to be shielded from liability by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

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A Synopsis of the Involuntary Porn Site IsAnybodyDown.com Controversy — the tl;dr

If you’re not yet familiar with IsAnybodyDown.com (NSFW), here’s a synopsis of the controversy surrounding it:

Involuntary porn: IsAnybodyDown.com is an “involuntary porn” or “revenge porn” site, posting nude photos, names, phone numbers, hometowns, and Facebook profiles of over 700 people.  The photos are posted without consent and are purportedly submitted by jealous ex-lovers, but may be culled by the site from deceived Craigslist users.  The site, hosted in Romania, claims immunity from U.S. copyright law and posted emails mocking those asking to have photos removed.  Its owners view the site as a “weapon.”

But IsAnybodyDown.com’s creators are AmericanThe site was started by Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs (now living in Phoenix) and Chance Trahan of Tempe, Arizona, though Chance denies that he “runs” the site, insisting that he is only a freelance artist.

Enter attorney David Blade: People understandably desperate to have photos removed turned to attorney “David Blade III”, who advertised on IsAnybodyDown and on his own site, TakedownLawyer.com, offering to negotiate with his old college friend Craig Brittain to have pictures removed for $250.  Blade boasts of removing photos of 90 people from the site.

Attorney David Blade turns out to be fake: “David Blade” does not exist.  “David Blade” is purportedly a public defender in New York, but no lawyer by that name is registered with the NY state bar.  The “Takedown Lawyer” website was registered and hosted by Craig Brittain, and emails from both “David Blade” and Craig Brittain likely originated from the same computer in Colorado Springs.  It appears that Craig Brittain was pretending to be attorney “David Blade”, receiving money to negotiate with himself to remove photos he doesn’t own.  Ken White, a former Federal prosecutor, believes this is wire fraud.  Craig later claimed that he doesn’t know who “David Blade” is and that a friend made him up.

Enter the real attorneys:  Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza uncovered the scam and offered to represent victims of IsAnybodyDown.com for free.  Others stepped forward to assist.

Enter the media:  NPR’s On the Media interviewed both Marc Randazza and Craig Brittain, and the Colorado Springs Independent interviewed Craig Brittain, leading Craig and Chance to engage extensively in the comments of the post.  CBS Denver will air an interview with Craig and victims of the site on Saturday, Jan. 12th. Also: ArsTechnicathe Daily DotAbove the LawLawyeristJezebelTechdirt (twice), and the Italian version of the Huffington Post.

Craig and Chance try to censor their critics: Craig, a self-described “front-line first amendment warrior,” tried (and failed) to use copyright law to censor posts about him at Popehat. Craig attempted to delete criticism of him from Wikipedia and was banned after making legal threats. Chance posted legal threats claiming “slander” and “invasion of privacy” in comments on my blogPopehat, Wikipedia, Techdirt, Ethics Alarm,  and a satirical video.  Chance successfully had the satirical video removed, arguing that its use of his photo and name invades his privacy.  Chance threatened that this blogger would be “extradited” to Arizona to face a libel suit if he didn’t remove “every last word” about him.

Craig fires back: Craig responded with a “press release” and with Trolldown.com, blaming Obama for his problems and claiming that Randazza, Ken White, and myself were each paid $350,000 by “Big Porn” to take down his site.  Craig launched his own personal site to respond to criticism.

Chance lashes out: Chance ranted on Twitteon his personal site, and filed a complaint with the BBB, claiming anti-bullying site Bullyville.com is paying Randazza and others to criticize him.

Enter Anonymous: #Knightsec, the contingent of hacking group Anonymous that targeted Hunter Moore (progenitor of revenge porn) declared war on the site.

Bullyville Offers a Reward: Anti-bullying site Bullyville.com is offering a $500 reward for proof that IsAnybodyDown.com contains photos of people under the age of 18.

YouGotPosted replicates the scheme: Another involuntary porn site has created a similar dubious front to collect money from its victims: ChangeMyReputation.com.

So what’s next? Things have been moderately quiet for the past few days — publicly, anyway. Stay tuned.

IsAnybodyDown Part IV: More Evidence the People Pictured were Deceived — and Didn’t Consent

In earlier posts, I documented some evidence that the proprietors of involuntary-porn site IsAnybodyDown.com were culling their photos from unsuspecting Craigslist posters and discounted their nonsensical claims that everyone who appears on the site consented to be pictured there.  This post is largely a re-hash of that evidence — with some fun new discoveries.

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IsAnybodyDown Update: Craig’s Pissed — because Barack Obama

Craig Brittain of IsAnybodyDown.com has apparently responded to his critics in an almost-coherent screed [PDF] threatening thunder and lightning on, inter alia, Randazza, “Ken Popehat,” and myself, and proclaiming that he’d be worth at least $8 million if it weren’t for that rascally Obama character. (Update: he’s now removed the post and is instead rambling about coal?)

He also had the courtesy to respond to me via email.

Update: Craig has since launched a blog of his own; now it’s not Obama’s fault — it’s the mafia’s and “Big Porn.”

What have we learned?

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Craig’s List: IsAnybodyDown.com and The Takedown, Hammered

Seeing that Marc Randazza and Popehat are quick on the scent of a new scam operation, I figured I’d pile on — as I am wont to do, both as a matter of impulse and because I hope that future Google searches for “The Takedown Lawyer“, “Is Anybody Down“, or “IsAnybodyDown.com” result in a well-placed result for Randazza’s offer to help victims of this scheme for free.

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