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.
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.)