While the social networks and certain search engines continue to dabble in the precarious when handling the privacy of account holders, the shear number of websites which are inches away from extortion, offer a complete file on an individual if the price is right.
The big players, such as Spokeo and Intelius readily offer basic personal information on virtually every citizen of the US for free and a comprehensive background check costs under $50. With pressure from watchdog groups and lawmakers, many of the intelligence gathering services now give people the ability to opt out of the digital information trail and have their records completely purged from the various databases. However, much like in the business world, there are entities that continually delve into criminal element of operations and play a cutthroat game of personal identity hostage in coaxing millions of dollars from individuals attempting to move on from past indiscretions.
According to the BBC News, a group of targeted people have been vindicated, thanks to the arrest by law enforcement officials of the owners at mugshots.com. The biting irony to the story is that the website makes accessible to the public images of arrests, and asks for substantial cash payments, if an individual wants the content removed. Charges against the four owners of the site range from extortion, money laundering, and identity theft, as the scumbags went after arrestees attempting to move on from contact with police departments. The scam profited primarily from those booked and not charged in threatening to continue to show arrest images and potentially damaging relationships, employment opportunities and credibility.
The website claims to provide a legitimate searchable database. “MUGSHOTS.COM DOES NOT PROVIDE CONSUMER REPORTS AND IS NOT A CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCY. OUR DATABASE CANNOT BE USED TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT CONSUMER CREDIT, EMPLOYERS, INSURANCE, TENANT SCREENING, OR ANY OTHER PURPOSES THAT WOULD REQUIRE FCRA COMPLIANCE.”
Tell that to the upwards of 5,000 people who paid a significant fee to have their arrest deleted from the site. In the wake of the owners spending time in the pokey, the database is still up and running and generating fresh content of folks booked into jail. It has not been determined if any of the four owners arrested appear on the front page of the mugshot website.
Read the BBC News story here.