SO META: Here Are the Mugshots of the Guys Who Allegedly Run Mugshots.com (And Why They Were Booked)Posted: May 19, 2018
The AG’s statement claims that Mugshots.com owners got $64,000 from about 175 people with billing addressed in the state. That’s over a three-year period. Of course, that falls way, way short of how much they raked nationwide: The four got over $2 million in “de-publishing” fees from 5,703 people.
Alberto Luperon reports: The alleged owners of Mugshots.com have been charged and arrested. These four men–Sahar Sarid, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, Thomas Keesee, and David Usdan–only removed a person’s mugshot from the site if this individual paid a “de-publishing” fee, according to the California Attorney General on Wednesday. That’s apparently considered extortion. On top of that, they also face charges for money laundering, and identity theft.
“This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation.”
If you read a lot of articles about crime, then you’re probably already familiar with the site (which is still up as of Friday afternoon). They take mugshots, slap the url multiple times on the image, and post it on the site alongside an excerpt from a news outlet that covered the person’s arrest.
“Those who can’t afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple.”
— Attorney General Xavier Becerra
According to the AG’s office, the owners would only remove the mugshots if the person paid a fee, even if the charges were dismissed or if the suspect was only arrested because of “mistaken identity or law enforcement error.”
You can read the affidavit here.
According to the complaint, a man identified as Jesse T. tried to have his mugshot removed. A friend had reached out to him, concerned he might be prison. T. discovered that his arrest information from Sept. 2, 2013 was posted on the site. It had his full name, address, gender, and the charge he was arrested for. He went to the link to get rid of the mugshot–unpublisharrest.com–but they demanded a $399 fee. He got in touch with the 800 number listed on the site, and when the man on the phone told him he needed to pay the fee, T. said that was illegal.
“The man laughed and hung up,” the affidavit said. The man hung up again when T. tried calling back to say he had proof clearing him of the charges. T. tried calling again three times on July 23, 2016. It went to a recording every time. After that, he got an unlisted call on his home phone, and he turned on a recorder before answering, the affidavit said. T. played the following message for investigators [sic, as written in the affidavit; his name is alternately spelled “Jesse” and “Jessie” in the document]:
Jessie T.: Hello
Unknown Male: -this third time tell you fucking bitch we’ll never answer your calls again you’ve been permanently published faggot bitch.
Jessie T.: Hey I’d like my stuff removed.
Records cited by the affidavit showed that T. was only detained by cops, but his case was dropped due to lack of evidence. Even so, the damage was done. The incident was treated as “detention only.” Read the rest of this entry »