SAN FRANCISCO –On June 8, 2015, Casey E. Meyering, the operator of a cyber exploitation website which posted explicit images of unsuspecting victims without their consent, was sentenced to three years in jail. In May, Meyering pled no contest to one count of extortion, three counts of attempted extortion, and one count of conspiracy.
"It infuriates me to think that there are human beings without any human decency and are willing exploit people for their own financial gain," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "This investigation, and others like it, by the California Department of Justice's eCrime unit should send a strong message to website operators who engage in cyber exploitation, expect to be locked up."
The eCrime unit found that Meyering operated WinByState.com, a cyber exploitation website which solicited the anonymous, public posting of private photos containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission. The victims' complete or partial names were often used in conjunction with the photos.
WinbyState.com required victims to pay $250 via a Google Wallet account to have photos of themselves, removed. The account was named TakeDownHammer and was registered to Meyering at a fictitious Beverly Hills storefront. Law enforcement agents purchased a “takedown” for one of the victims in Napa and traced the funds to Meyering’s bank account in Tulsa. Surveillance footage from the bank identified him withdrawing money from the account.
The investigation began in February 2013, stemming from a complaint by a Northern California woman to a Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety detective. The victim suspected that a college classmate had hacked her computer and retrieved nude images. Through search warrants, law enforcement discovered that the victim’s classmate had indeed hacked and stolen nude images of her. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office convicted the classmate for identity-theft related crimes and he received an eight-month jail sentence.
Meyering’s sentence follows the sentencing of Kevin Bollaert, the operator of a similar cyber exploitation website. In April, Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years of incarceration following a verdict which found him guilty of six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft. The Bollaert case was the first criminal prosecution of a cyber exploitation website operator in the country.
Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit in 2011 to investigate and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes, and other crimes involving the use of technology.