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Mugshots.com Owners Charged With Extortion For Demanding Money To Remove Arrest Information

People who found their info on Mugshots.com had to pay $400 to get the photos and records taken down.

By Eric Shorey

The men behind Mugshots.com now face their own legal drama.

Four men who allegedly operate the website that posts mugshots and arrest information face extortion charges for demanding money to take down posts.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued arrest warrents Wednesday for Sahar Sarid, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, Thomas Keesee and David Usdan, according to The Washington Post. Their suspected roles with the website were not specified. 

Becerra is hoping to have the men extradited to California, where about 175 people have paid to have their information removed from Mugshots.com In total, Mugshots.com has collected more than $2.4 million in fees from nearly six thousand people from between 2014 and 2017.

Mugshots.com has a disclaimer noting that a person's information is in no way an indication of guilt or innocence. But the page has raised ethical questions about the use of public information that may damage a person's reputation.

Individuals who find their information posted on the site must pay around $400 through a secondary site, Unpublisharrest.com, to have the photo and records withdrawn.

Becerra said the site profits from humiliation.

"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," he said in a statment.

The owners of the site have been difficult to locate. The site's business address is listed in Nevis, West Indies. It uses a website hosting company in Australia to operate.

Keese and Sarid were arrested Wednesday in South Florida, according to WPTV in West Palm Beach. Details of the arrest have not been released. The status of the other two men implicated in the case is unclear.

A Florida law will go into effect July 1 that prohibits "a person or entity engaged in publishing or disseminating arrest booking photographs from soliciting or accepting a fee or other payment to remove a photograph."

[Photo: Broward County Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff]

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