Federal Charges Against ‘Revenge Porn King’ for Hacking, Identity Theft Highlight Email Insecurity

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Hunter Moore, the California man who became infamous for operating the so-called “revenge porn” website IsAnyoneUp.com, was recently indicted on charges of stealing nude photos from hacked email accounts and posting them online. Moore, 27, and his alleged accomplice, Charles “Gary” Evens, 25, were charged with conspiracy, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and identity theft. Evens pleaded not guilty while Moore didn’t enter a plea. What the two men are accused of highlights just how easy it can be to hack into email accounts and steal sensitive information. The results can be devastating for the victims.

Between 2010 and 2012, Moore operated IsAnyoneUp.com where he posted nude or explicit photos – including some that came from disgruntled spouses and ex-lovers – without the consent of the people seen in them. Moore included their names and other identifying information such as their profession and hometown; and he linked to their social media profiles. Victims featured on Is Anyone Up? sent cease-and-desist letters to Moore and contacted the media. Moore was even banned from Facebook. But the law couldn’t touch him, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The reason was the content on Moore’s website was submitted by third party users.

How One Outraged California Mother Got the FBI To Investigate Moore

It wasn’t until a California woman named Charlotte Laws began investigating where some of the photos on IsAnyoneUp? came from that the FBI got interested in Hunter Moore. According to xojane.com, it began in 2011 when Laws’ 25-year-old daughter Kayla took a bunch of sexy pictures of herself in her room with her cell phone and emailed them to her computer. Three months later, Kayla discovered her email had been hacked. And a few days after that, Kayla was horrified to discover a photo of herself with her breast exposed posted on IsAnyoneUp. Kayla told her parents she hadn’t shown the pictures to anyone. Her mother emailed Hunter Moore asking him to take down the photo of Kayla from his website, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Moore refused. Then Kayla got another shock. She learned her friend Susan also had a photo posted on IsAnyoneUp. Susan said she hadn’t shown the picture to anyone but her husband.

That led Charlotte Laws to contact 25 randomly selected people whose photos had been uploaded to Moore’s site within a two-week period. According to Laws, 40% said their email accounts had been hacked just days before their photos appeared on IsAnyoneUp. One woman had a graphic post-surgery photo of her bandaged breast posted on Moore’s site while another woman had topless photos documenting her weight loss show up there.

Charlotte Laws succeeded in getting her daughter Kayla’s picture removed from IsAnyoneUp. The victims banded together, monitored Moore’s activities, and got him banned from PayPal. Laws went to the FBI with files full of evidence from the victims she had interviewed. The Los Angeles office of the agency’s Internet Crime division began investigating Moore. When he found out, Moore shut down his website and redirected his traffic to an anti-bullying site. But it was too late. Almost a year-and-a-half later, Hunter Moore and Charles Evens were charged with gaining unauthorized access to the Gmail and Yahoo! accounts of hundreds of victims and stealing photos and other information to post on his revenge porn website. These are just some of the charges the government has made against the two men:

  • On October 11, 2011, Charles Evens sent Hunter Moore an email on “how to hack emails.”
  • On October 18, Moore asked Evens to send him naked pictures, stating he would send Evens payments using PayPal.
  • On December 8, Evens sent Moore an email asking for $250 for nude pictures of “six guys and six girls.” Moore sent Evens an email saying he would like as many as possible.
  • On January 8, 2012, Moore sent Evens an email asking him to “hack all week for me.” On the same day, Evens submitted pictures, including a nude picture of victim K.L. to IsAnyoneUp.com. Moore paid Evens $294.

Last week, Kayla Law told KNBC in Los Angeles that she is “K.L.” – one of seven accusers of Hunter Moore and Charles Evens who are referred to in the indictment.

“You think that it can’t happen to you, but it can,” she told KNBC. “I was just so damaged by it. It just all hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Thanks in no small part to Charlotte and Kayla Laws’ efforts, California recently passed a law which prohibits taking intimate photos or videos and then distributing them to intentionally cause serious emotional distress to the victim. Other states are moving to follow California’s lead. But the current law doesn’t cover “selfies” or distributors of revenge porn such as Hunter Moore.

Nor does it cover hackers who break into victims’ computers then distribute the photos they’ve stolen.

Is Your Email Secure?

That means it’s up to everyone who uses email to secure their sensitive information to avoid becoming a victim of online identity theft.

  • Choose long strong passwords that are different for each account. Wherever possible use two-factor authentication.
  • Use secure communication to protect your passwords when you send them over the air. That means using https when available and always using a VPN at WiFi hotspots.
  • Use secure storage to protect your passwords when you save them. For example, don’t store them in email folders.
  • Minimize phishing messages you receive by turning on spam/phishing filters and choosing smart privacy settings for all your email and social media accounts.
  • Use common sense to protect your passwords from being phished. Just because a friend sends you an email doesn’t mean you can trust what’s in it. Never respond to phishing messages and think twice before you click on any link.

 

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