Local man accused of blackmailing ‘revenge porn’ victims

SAN DIEGO — A Pacific Beach man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly posting explicit photographs of women on a so-called “revenge porn” website without their consent and then blackmailing them to remove the images from the Internet.

Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion, according to the office of State Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Last December, Bollaert created a website called “ugotposted.com,” which allows people to create anonymous, public posts of private explicit photographs without the subjects’ permission, court documents allege.

Commonly known as revenge porn, such images typically are obtained consensually by the poster during a prior relationship or are stolen.

Unlike other such online sites, on which those depicted in the photos are anonymous, ugotposted.com required that posters include the subject’s full name, location, age and social-networking profile link, according to the attorney general.

“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.

Fourteen victims are listed in the court documents, identified as Jane Does. In emails to the website the victims asked for the images to be removed. One of them wrote: “PLEASE HELP! I am scared for my life!”

Instead of taking the images down, authorities said Bollaert created a second online site, “changemyreputation.com,” which he used when people contacted ugotposted.com to request that content be removed from the site.

The suspect 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, Bollaert told investigators he had 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.

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.