The Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force (NC3TF), a multijurisdictional group of top law enforcement personnel and the State's District Attorneys focused on tackling cyber crime, led the investigation with assistance from the California Attorney General's Office. The site reportedly reroutes booking photos to a secondary website called Unpublisharrest.com and charges people a "de-publishing" fee if they wish to have their photo taken down. Mugshots.com does not remove criminal record information until a subject pays the fee.
The California AG's Office worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Broward County Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, and CT and Pennsylvania authorities to arrest the four owners.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the site hit less fortunate people harder than the wealthy.
"This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else's humiliation", Attorney General Becerra said.
The Mugshots.com website was indiscriminate in listing mugshot photos, investigators found, often showing mugshots for arrests for which charges were dismissed, or for people arrested due to mistaken identity or law enforcement error. "This is exploitation, plain and simple". Florida's law goes into effect July 1.
The defendants named in the complaint are Sahar Sarid, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, Thomas Keesee, and David Usdan. WFMZ reports that Bhavnanie was arrested in Pennsylvania, while WFTS reports that Usdan is suspected to be in CT.
Folks on Twitter have been more than happy to share the mugshots of Sarid and Keesee. California is seeking their extradition and will prosecute the case. Jesse T., who was arrested in 2013 but released without charges filed, applied for over 100 jobs with no response after his mugshot surfaced on the website. Her son shares the same name as his father and when they Google the name, her late husband's mugshot comes up.
Investigators say the four have been listing these mugshot photos on the Mugshots.com website for years, along with summaries of the charges for each person portrayed in the mugshot. She's also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.
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