San Diego man released from jail on revenge porn, extortion char - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

San Diego man released from jail on revenge porn, extortion charges

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – CBS News 8 spoke exclusively to the owner of a so-called "revenge porn" website who was released from jail Tuesday night.

"I don't feel like I committed any crime," said Kevin Bollaert.

The 27-year-old man, whose arraignment was postponed Wednesday, is suspected of posting thousands of explicit photographs of women on his website ugotposted.com without their consent and then extorting money from the woman who wanted the images removed.

Bollaert turned himself into authorities Tuesday morning and faces 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said last December, Bollaert created the website which allows people to create anonymous, public posts of private explicit photographs without the subjects' permission, court documents allege.

"I understand that a lot of people would be upset by what would happen and be hurt," said Bollaert.

Commonly known as revenge porn, images, generally of nude young women, typically are obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship or are stolen.

CBS News 8 spoke to a 20-year-old woman from Reno who said her nude photos were posted to ugotposted.com and she did not send her pictures to anyone electronically and believes her iPod was hacked.

"Those were personal photos I never sent them to anybody. They were only my iPod," said the woman.

Unlike other online sites, in which women depicted in the photos are anonymous, ugotposted.com required that posters include the subjects' full name, location, age and social-networking profile link, according to the attorney general.

The woman in Reno said she was 17 when the pictures were taken and she didn't find out until her friend saw the pictures and she received several friend requests on social media.

"You should have seen me I was a wreck, I was balling my eyes out," said the woman. "That's me, that's my personal nakedness and everyone can see it now."

Some women told agents they were harassed and stalked by users wanting to "hook up."

"This website published intimate photos of unsuspecting victims and turned their public humiliation and betrayal into a commodity with the potential to devastate lives," Harris said.

Under California law, it is illegal to willfully obtain someone's personal identifying information -- including name, age and address -- for any unlawful purpose, including with the intent to "annoy" or harass.

Bollaert told CBS News 8, "everything on the website was posted by other people."

Between Dec. 2, 2012, and Sept. 17, Bollaert and unnamed co-conspirators allegedly posted 10,170 explicit photos without the subjects' consent.

Bollaert also created a second online site, changemyreputation.com, which he used when people contacted ugotposted.com to request that content be removed from the site, according to the attorney general's office.

Hundreds of alleged victims emailed ugotposted.com, pleading to have their photos removed and describing embarrassing and frightening results from the unauthorized posts, according to a search-warrant affidavit filed in the case.

"PLEASE HELP!" wrote a Los Angeles woman identified in the court document as Jane Doe No. 6. "I am scared for my life! People are calling my workplace, and they obtained that information through this site! I did not give permission for anyone to put up those pictures or my personal information. I have contacted the police, but those pictures need to come down! Please!"

Another woman described similar troubles resulting from the posting of intimate photographs of her, which she said had been taken when she was a minor.

"I have gone to the police, I've had a restraining order put in place because of this site, (and) my phone has been going off EVERY 2 MINUTES with strange men sending inappropriate things to me," she wrote to the website. "It's disgusting. Also, I've had to ... have a sexual harassment charge put in place in court because of this. I don't know what gets you off about ruining people's lives, but I was underage in the photos posted of me so, yes, you are showing child pornography."

Bollaert allegedly would extort victims by replying with a changemyreputation.com email address and offering to remove the content for a fee ranging from $300 to $350, which could be paid using an online PayPal account referenced in the message.

According to court documents, the suspect told investigators he made about $900 per month from advertising on the site. Records obtained from his changemyreputation.com PayPal account indicate that he received payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars, authorities said.

Records also reveal that he told agents he would receive about 100 emails per day requesting the photos be taken down. 

"I just don't want to be involved in that kind of website anymore. I want to do good things with my life," said Bollaert.

The arrest came at the conclusion of a six-month investigation by the attorney general's eCrime Unit, created two years ago to identify and prosecute identity-theft offenses, cybercrimes and other high-tech illegal activities.

"Online predators who profit from the extortion of private photos will be investigated and prosecuted for this reprehensible and illegal internet activity," Harris said.

California is the second state with the revenge porn law, but critics say there's a loophole that may let some perpetrators get away with the crime.

The law only applies when the person accused of spreading the images online is also the photographer.

If convicted, offenders can serve up to six months jail and pay a $1,000 fine.

Bollaert's new arraignment date is set for December 17.

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