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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A San Diego man has been charged with operating a revenge porn website that let people anonymously post explicit photographs of others so that he could extort money from those whose privacy was breached.
Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, was arrested Tuesday by California Department of Justice agents on 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion. Authorities say he earned tens of thousands of dollars from a pair of websites he operated in the scheme.
Bollaert created the site ugotposted.com, which was inactive Wednesday, a year ago, according to court documents. The site displayed thousands of nude pictures without the permission of those photographed, investigators said.
The expression "revenge porn" comes from the preponderance of such explicit images posted online by former lovers in attempts to shame the subjects of the photographs after breakups.
The images used can be obtained consensually during a relationship or can be stolen or hacked from online accounts.
The practice resulted in a new California law that makes it a misdemeanor to post identifiable nude pictures of someone else online without their permission and with the intent of causing serious emotional distress or humiliation, though that law was not cited in the charges against Bollaert.
Unlike most revenge porn sites, investigators said Bollaert's Web page required that the victim be identified by name, age and other information, leading to the identity theft allegations. Bollaert also is charged with obtaining identifying information with the intent to annoy or harass.
His attorney, Alexander Landon, has not returned repeated telephone messages over two days.
The documents say Bollaert charged victims a fee ranging from $249.99 to $350 to remove the images, using emails sent through a second website, changemyreputation.com. That led to the extortion charges. That site also has gone inactive.
His activities "turned their public humiliation and betrayal into a commodity with the potential to devastate lives," Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement.
Bollaert was released from San Diego County jail after posting $50,000 bail. He is set to appear in court Dec. 17.
Authorities say he told investigators during a six-month investigation that he received about $900 each month from online advertising. However, the department said records from his changemyreputation.com PayPal account show that he received tens of thousands of dollars.
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