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'Revenge porn' site creator, alleged hacker charged with computer crime, ID theft

Two California men – including the creator and operator of a so-called “revenge porn” website -- were charged Thursday with computer crimes and ID theft stemming from an alleged conspiracy to hack into email accounts and steal nude photos that were later posted on the Internet site.


Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Hunter Moore, 27, of Woodland, Calif., near Sacramento, and Charles Evens, 25, of Studio City, Calif., without incident at their respective homes. They were expected to make initial court appearances later Thursday in the districts in which they were arrested.

Moore is a notorious character as a result of his creation and operation of the now-defunct revenge porn website isanyoneup.com. The BBC several years ago named him the "most-hated man on the Internet."

Both men are charged in the 15-count federal grand jury indictment with conspiracy, seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information and seven counts of aggravated identity theft.

“The moral of the story is that his revenge porn site wasn’t a good enough business model, and that he had to engage in illegal activity to populate the site with pictures,” said Wes Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California and head of the office’s Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section.


Neither the defendants nor their attorneys could immediately be reached by NBC News for comment.

If convicted, Moore and Evens each face a maximum of up to five years in federal prison on the conspiracy and computer hacking counts, prosecutors said. Additionally, the aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence, which would be served consecutively to any other sentence.

 

Charlotte Laws' daughter was the victim of photo hacking at the hands of the now-defunct site isanyoneup.com. Laws, who has been called the "Erin Brockovich of revenge porn" discusses how she took down the person who posted pictures of her daughter.

According to the 13-page indictment, there were least eight primary victims of the conspiracy, described only by their initials. “Nude images of (the victims) …  and others” were posted on Moore’s site, isanyoneup.com, it said.

The indictment also alleges Evens gained access to the email accounts of “hundreds of victims by various means, including by ‘hacking.’”

Prosecutors said Moore’s site featured “revenge porn,” where “nude or explicit photos of victims (were) submitted by other individuals without the victim’s permission for purposes of revenge.”

Moore needed more material for his site and conspired with Evens, starting at an unknown date and continuing through May 2, 2012, to illegally gain access to victim’s computers to obtain more photos, prosecutors said.

Moore allegedly instructed Evens to gain unauthorized access to victims’ email accounts and sent payments to Evens in exchange for nude photos he obtained, according to the indictment. Moore then posted the illegally obtained photos on his website, without the victims’ consent, it said.

In an interview on "MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts" in December, activist and mom Charlotte Walls described how a hacker gained access to compromising photos of hundreds of people across the country, including her daughter, first through Facebook and then by getting into her email account.

“People are being humiliated, hurt,” said Walls, who helped push through a California law banning revenge porn. “The people on the website then harassed the particular individual who is a victim on the site and tried to get her fired from her job, trying to ruin her job essentially. It’s really a horrendous thing that happens.”

Hsu said the case offers a good lesson for email users.

“It’s a reminder to everybody that you have to be diligent when you set up your passwords and security questions,” Hsu said. “I think people take for granted that nobody is going to bother trying to get into their email account. I view it is a very important, private thing for most people. Everybody should make themselves as hard a target as possible.”

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