Austintown man accused of running 'revenge porn' website will pa - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Austintown man accused of running 'revenge porn' website will pay price

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A federal agency says it has reached an agreement with an Austintown man accused of operating a website that posted intimate pictures of people without their permission and charged them hundreds of dollars to remove those images.

The Federal Trade Commission says Aniello "Neil" Infante of Austintown is one of three people responsible for a so-called “revenge porn” site accused of violating federal and Nevada state law by posting images of people and their personal information.

Infante has now agreed to a permanent ban on posting intimate images without consent, according to the FTC.

In addition to Infante, a federal complaint names EMP Media, Inc., Shad "John" Applegate of Henderson, also known as Shad Cottelli of Henderson, Nevada, as well as several unknown parties doing business as Yeicox Ltd.

The FTC and Nevada charge that the website, MyEx.com, is dedicated solely to revenge porn and has solicited intimate pictures and videos of victims, together with their personal information such as their name, address, employer, and social media account information.

The site urged visitors to "Add Your Ex," and to "Submit Pics and Stories of Your Ex." In several instances, the defendants allegedly charged victims fees from $499 to $2,800 to remove their images and information from the site.

According to the complaint, visitors to MyEx.com can rate the videos and pictures they see and post comments about the victims.

Sometimes the site included victims' full date of birth, personal email address, telephone number, and links to social media profiles, along with the intimate images.

The FTC alleges that the defendants were aware that many of the individuals did not agree to have their intimate images and personal information posted. As of December 2017, there were approximately 12,620 entries on the site, according to the complaint.

Many individuals suffered serious harm because of the defendants' conduct, according to the FTC.

In addition to experiencing direct financial loss by paying fees to the defendants, the complaint asserts, among other things, that individuals lost their jobs and received threatening and harassing emails and social media messages.

Investigators say that the practices constitute unfair acts or deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act.

In addition, the state of Nevada alleged that the defendants' conduct constitutes a deceptive trade practice under Nevada law.

21 News has learned that 38 states have "revenge porn" laws including Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Matthew Mangino, a legal expert from Lawrence County, Pennsylvania says while Pennsylvania's law is not expansive, it can mean serious consequences for someone who disseminates explicit photographs of a former boyfriend or girlfriend.

"It's a serious crime in Pennsylvania.  You can go to jail for up to a year and get a $5,000 fine if you disseminate explicit photographs without the permission of the other individual," Mangino said.

In Ohio, Senator and Democratic Candidate for Governor Joe Schiavoni has drafted a "revenge porn" bill.  It will be unveiled January 18th at the Statehouse in Columbus.  It aims to protect victims from being blackmailed into paying huge fees to have photos removed from websites.  It also provides a way for them to sue those who post their intimate photos and personal information without their knowledge. 

"MyEx.com uses reprehensible tactics to profit off of the intimate details of individuals' private lives," said Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. "People who were featured on this site suffered real harm, including the loss of money they paid to remove intimate images and personal information, loss of jobs, and being subject to threats and harassment."

The settlement reached by Infante, who served in various corporate roles including President of EMP Media Inc., bans him from posting intimate images and personal information of others without permission.

In addition to being ordered to destroy the images and personal information, Infante is also banned from charging individuals fees for removing the content from the web.

Although Infante has agreed to a $205,000 judgment, the FTC says he is only being required to pay $15,000 since he is unable to afford the entire penalty. The payment will be used to provide some compensation to individuals who paid him take-down fees.

The FTC complaint may be seen here

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