Two men who owned the notorious Mugshots.com, a site that proudly displays inmates’ mugshots online and charges people a fee to remove them, were arrested on Wednesday, according to a press release.
“The website mines data from police and sheriffs’ department websites to collect individuals’ names, booking photos and charges, then republishes the information online without the individuals’ knowledge or consent,” according to the press release. “Once subjects request that their booking photos be removed, they are routed to a secondary website called Unpublisharrest.com and charged a ‘de-publishing’ fee to have the content removed.”
“This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “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.”
The site would not remove criminal record information until a subject pays the fee, even if the information is due to mistaken identity or if charges were dropped, according to the press release.
Two of the Mugshots.com creators, Sahar Sarid and Thomas Keesee, were arrested in Florida and charged with extortion, identify theft and money laundering. They’re awaiting extradition to California, where it is illegal to charge a fee to remove mugshots from websites.
Two others involved with the crimes were also arrested and over three years, the four earned $64,000 in removal fees from about 175 people in California.
Keesee, 60, is being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail. Sarid, 43, is being held on $1.86 million bail at the Broward County Jail — the same Broward County that failed to appropriately respond to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting Feb. 14. (RELATED: Broward County Deputies Schedule No-Confidence Vote For Sheriff Scott Israel)
Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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