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DA Cannizzaro amends ‘revenge porn’ charges against architect Gerald Billes and wife

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Aug. 17) amended the so-called “revenge porn” charges against New Orleans architect Gerald Billes and his wife to a different offense that carries a stiffer maximum penalty.

Billes, 71, was newly charged with one count of video voyeurism in a superseding bill of information filed in Criminal District Judge Arthur Hunter’s courtroom. His wife Carmen Midence, 41, was charged with two counts of the same offense. Defense attorney Frank DeSalvo entered not guilty pleas to the new charges on behalf of each.

The new felony charge carries a penalty range of one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both upon conviction. The couple previously faced charges of non-consensual disclosure of private images — dubbed Louisiana’s “revenge porn” law — punishable by the same fine and/or a prison term of up to two years.

The charge was amended after prosecutors determined the date of the alleged offense fell before the “revenge porn” statute was enacted in 2015, said assistant district attorney Christopher Bowman, spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office.

The couple was arrested last Dec. 8, after Billes’ former girlfriend complained to New Orleans police that her ex and his new wife had emailed nude images of her to friends without her knowledge or permission. She also said they had impersonated her on fake social media profiles they created under her name, according to court records.

Police initially booked Billes and Midence each with two counts of online impersonation, two counts of video voyeurism and two counts of non-consensual disclosure of a private image, according to court records.

When Cannizzaro’s office screened the evidence in May, the only charges accepted were counts of non-consensual disclosure of private images — two counts against Midence and one against Billes, whom she married in July 2016.

Billes is the CEO and principal owner of Billes Partners, an architectural firm that has been involved in major development projects including the New Orleans Hilton hotel master plan, Phase II of the Aquarium of the Americas, Concourse C at Louis Armstrong International Airport and the French Market revitalization, according to the firm’s website. Other commercial projects involving Billes’ company include New Orleans’ House of Blues and the Whole Foods grocery stores in Uptown and Mid-City.

Billes also has taught as an associate and adjunct professor of architecture at Tulane University and Southern University, according to his company’s biography.

Only Midence appeared in court Thursday, as DeSalvo said Billes had a medical issue. Hunter issued reciprocal restraining orders to the couple and their accuser, banning contact between the parties. Hunter scheduled a pretrial hearing in the case for Sept. 8, and set a Sept. 29 date to argue motions in the case.

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Revenge porn gets Roswell man arrested, cops say

A Roswell man posted a nude photo of his underage ex-girlfriend in what may be a case of revenge porn, according to a Georgia Southern University police report.

Zollise Kelly, 18, is accused of posting the photos of the 16-year-old onto a Snapchat page, police said.

Kelly was released on bond from the Bulloch County jail Wednesday on a child pornography and exploitation charge. He also faces a misdemeanor charge for illegally sending sexually explicit or nude materials.

He was arrested Tuesday by Roswell police, four months after the alleged April 11 posts.

The victim told police Kelly may have posted the pictures out of anger after “he attempted to get in touch with her a few months before (the incident) and (she told him) that she did not want to talk to him anymore,” according to the report.

Under Georgia law, it is illegal to upload or send lewd photographs or video on the internet as a form of harassment. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not identify victims of sex crimes.

Kelly and the girl had dated for a year and a half when she sent him the photos.

The teenager, now 18 and a student at Georgia Southern, was told about the photos being posted by one of Kelly’s friends and reported it to university police the next day, according to the report. She’d tried to reach out to Kelly about the posts but could not get in contact with him. Police said she also called his parents, but the father hung up on her.

Kelly eventually called the alleged victim back and spoke with investigators, who asked him to come to Statesboro to speak with them in person, according to the report. It is not known if Kelly went to the university to speak with them.

Warrants were taken out for Kelly’s arrest after Snapchat provided information about the account.… Read the rest

Houston man loses nearly $80K in romance scam

Tiffany Craig, KHOU
7:40 PM. CDT July 31, 2017

HOUSTON – Greg Davis is a busy man with two jobs. Admittedly, he doesn’t find time to meet women.

He decided to try online dating and quickly got results.

“I met the girl on match.com,” Davis said.

She was a knockout from Chicago and introduced herself as “Malikah.” Davis was drawn to the exotic-looking woman, and she seemed just as smitten.

“She pursued me, too, so I was like, ‘This is it,'” he recalled. “This is how it works.”

It didn’t take long for their online romance to graduate to emails, phone calls and a slew of provocative pictures.

THE MONEY

One day, a will arrived in Davis’ inbox. “Malikah” said her father had died and left her millions of dollars overseas. She just needed him to front some cash for taxes and shipping.

“It was increments of $5,000, $10,000,” he said. “It was also spent trying to pay for the fine that was on the money in storage.”

By the time we spoke with Greg, he had been talking to “Malikah” and sending money for two years.

THE CRIME

In 2016, the FBI said that 1,000 Texans reported being victims of the romance scam. Their loss is more than $16 million. Nationally, almost 15,000 victims forked over more than $230 million.

The crime is growing.

Sgt. Josh Nowitz is a certified scam examiner. He works at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

“They put a million hooks in the water, and all they have to do is catch a couple to make it profitable for them,” he said.

Sgt. Nowitz said each romance scam case is unique but they all lead to the scammer asking for something.

“They’ll build up some sort of a relationship with this person through text through emails or sometimes even through Skype,” he said. “They’ll actually employ actors and things like that and so they’ll build up the relationship before asking for favors.”

THE REALITY

In Greg’s case, he drained his retirement, maxed out credit cards and took out more than a dozen payday loans.

His total loss is nearly $80,000.

“I feel kind of stupid,” Greg admits.

You see, he asked for proof that the inheritance was real.

He was sent a video.

In that video, a heavy-accented man is holding a stack of cash. There are rows of 100 dollar bills with “GREGORY” printed on every single note.

“I looked at it and took a $100 bill out of my pocket, and I put it down,” he said. “That’s not even close to being a currency, and so that’s when I knew the whole thing was all a mess.”

This was the moment Davis realized he was scammed.

As for that mystery woman, she could be anyone, but the pictures sent to Davis matched what we found on a Facebook page for a Colombian porn star.

“Make sure you’re actually face to face with that person you’re supposed to be dealing with, because the internet dating thing you don’t know what you’re getting,” he said

Photos: Houston man loses nearly 80k in romance scam

 

WATCH: Tiffany Craig talks with FBI agent about internet dating scams

© 2017 KHOU-TV

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Victim of revenge porn confronts creator of video

MIDLAND — It’s a childish thing to do: compiling then publishing photos of people in their most vulnerable state, and it’s called revenge porn.

A video showing nude photos of women and men throughout the Midland community has surfaced on Facebook.

And one of the victims is 20-year-old Bekka Wollaston. Though she was a victim of lewd acts like this in high school, she never thought she’d be facing a similar situation years later.

Tears can be seen streaming down her face during a Facebook live video published Tuesday night. Bekka addresses the anonymous creators of the revenge porn video that’s caused a social media fire storm.

“My heart just started racing. It was frustrating because I had gone through that same thing in high school and I’m 20 now and in college and trying to make something of mysellf,” Bekka said.

She wasn’t even aware of the video on Flipagram, a video editing app, until a Facebook friend tagged her in a post.

Bekka initially thought the video was spam, but pressed play, and then saw a photo of herself.

In the video, over 30 men and women are shown—some, even nude.

Bekka believes multiple people are behind the damaging video. One name associated with it is Felipee Ruiz, and a Facebook profile belonging to Yoli Sanchez has multiple posts hinting toward creating the video by asking people to contribute intimate photos of unknowing victims.
“There’s this video that I’m associated with that is literally shaming people for trusting others with personal pictures,” Bekka said.

The video has since then been removed from Flipagram, but the pain it caused still remains.

“You don’t know what someone’s going through and they see that video and they could be struggling with depression or struggling with body issues or something like that and to see that could tip someone over the edge,” she said.

According to Rachel Walker with the Midland Police Department, revenge porn is considered unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material and is a Class A misdemeanor under the Texas penal code.

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Scots revenge porn blackmailer who hunted for victims on Grindr hit with extended five year prison sentence

A REVENGE porn blackmailer who hunted for victims on a gay dating website was given an extended five year prison sentence.

Reece Scobie, 23, of Inchture, between Dundee and Perth, blackmailed his victims by threatening to publish naked pictures of them on social media sites after meeting them on Grindr.

Central News

Scobie blackmailed his victims by threatening to publish naked pictures of them on social media

Scobie told his sextortion victims he would post explicit images they had sent him across the internet and pass them on to their family and friends.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis heard Scobie was a “borderline genius” who could have gone to university and called his case “somewhat tragic and a waste of ability.”

He told Scobie he would spend three years behind bars and a further two year extended sentence was imposed to protect the public from serious harm.

Scobie was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register and made the subject of a highly restrictive Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Among the restrictions is a ban on using social media like Facebook without special police approval.

Sheriff Foulis told Scobie that his three victims would have been extremely alarmed and distressed by the threats to make them the subject of revenge porn.

He was already on the Sex Offenders Register when he lured his victims – including a 15-year-old boy – into sending pictures of their genitals to him.

When they tried to break off contact with Scobie he threatened to hack Google and Facebook and find all the images of their faces which were present online.

Scobie told victims: “I’m going to go on Facebook and hack it. I’m going to distribute your dirty chat and nude photos.

“I’m going to send them individually to each and every one of your friends.

“This might take me all day but it will be worth it.

“I’m going to send them to your work and put them all over my Facebook.

“I will drive your life into the ground like a f***ing tent peg.

“This is a promise I intend to keep. I will also send your photos to your uni.

“If you want to sort this out I’m here to talk. If not – game on.”

Fiscal depute John Malpass told the court that Scobie – who also used the pseudonym Calum Maxwell – had found his victims on Grindr.

He said Scobie had been jailed in Iceland after being caught with child porn images on a flight to the USA and had been booted out of the country on February 8 last year.

Within a fortnight he had started seeking out victims on Grindr and had exchanged numbers with them so they could initially send each other text messages.

“The accused asked the first one to send naked photos of himself,” Mr Malpass said.

“The man was nervous but after some persuasion he sent photos.”

However, Scobie started acting “in a strange manner” and became aggressive towards his victims and started making threats when they tried to cut off contact with him.

He admitted that on March 8 last year he tried to extort responses to his text messages by threatening to publish naked images of one complainer on the internet.

He admitted threatening a second man in a similar way the following day and also that he would pass his naked pictures on to his family and friends.

Between March 1 and April 30 he admitted causing a 15-year-old child to participate in sexual activity by inducing him to create sexual images and send them to Scobie.

He admitted two further charges relating to the schoolboy including menacing him and trying to extort further images from him by threatening to publish his naked pictures online.

Scobie also admitted breaching bail by deleting the browser history on his mobile phone.

Mr Malpass told the court that Scobie’s victims were “concerned and frightened” and that the youngest victim was only discovered during an analysis of the paedophile’s phone after he was arrested.

Solicitor Gary McIlravey, defending, said: “What he said to me was that he was struggling with his sexuality at the time. This spiraled out of control.”

Earlier this year, Scobie was placed on the register after Police Scotland took a rare civil action based on his conviction from outside the United Kingdom.

Scobie, who has used stolen credit card details to travel the world, was jailed in Iceland after being found with child porn images and videos on his latest illicit trip to Seattle in the United States.

As well as being jailed for 12 months in Iceland last year, he was also ordered to pay the equivalent of £18,000 court costs after he admitted several frauds and having a large haul of child porn.

He was found with 4,750 photographs and 345 videos of child porn and the internet restricting conditions were in place upon his return to Scotland.

In 2013, Scobie, who was just 19, was locked up for 16 months after he admitted carrying out a massive con to fund his “fantasy” globetrotting lifestyle.

He was compared to notorious Catch Me If You Can fraudster Frank Abagnale in the wake of a global travel con funded by £70,000 he duped from travel agents.

Abagnale Jnr, played by Leonardo di Caprio in the movie, posed as an airline pilot to travel the world while taunting the authorities.

Scobie booked as many as 30 hotel rooms and at least five luxury holidays across the world each costing between £5,000 and £10,000.

The teenager – who lives with his mother – booked round the world trips taking in Dubai, Auckland, Atlanta, New York and Vancouver.


 


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The people – including children – convicted of revenge porn in Birmingham

The West Midlands is a hotspot for revenge porn, with people in the area twice as likely as the national average to be found guilty of the crime.

There were 22 convictions for disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress in the West Midlands police area in 2016.

This was a rate of 7.8 convictions per 1m people, nearly twice the England rate of 4.3 per 1m.

Of those convicted in 2016, 20 were men, one was a women, and one was not stated. The numbers were up from 16 convictions, of men, in the nine months from April to December 2015.

Across England and Wales, there were 293 adults proceeded against and 247 convictions for revenge porn in 2016. This was up from 268 people proceeded against and 218 convictions between April and December 2015.

The majority of people found guilty in England and Wales were men, with 216 found guilty in 2016, along with 30 women, and one case where gender was not stated.

Six boys aged under 18 were also proceeded against on charges relating to revenge porn in 2016, with two convictions, compared to three proceeded against and three convictions in 2015. One girl aged under 18 was also proceeded against and convicted in 2016.

The offence, under Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, came into force on April 13, 2015. The Revenge Porn Helpline was launched in February 2015 to help tackle the problem of people sharing intimate images online.

Judges have discretionary powers to prohibit the naming of victims if identification would affect the case and cause undue fear or distress.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded. Since we changed the law, there have been over 550 prosecutions for this offence which carries a maximum sentence of two years behind bars – proving our tough stance is working.

“By making it a specific offence, we have sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.”

The figures, released by the Ministry of Justice following a Freedom of Information request, relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with.

The number of defendants found guilty in a particular year may exceed the number proceeded against as the proceedings in the magistrates’ court took place in an earlier year and the defendants were found guilty at the Crown Court in the following year; or the defendants were found guilty of a different offence to that for which they were originally proceeded against.

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Woman Arrested for Revenge Porn After Posting Naked Pictures of Her Ex-Boyfriend to Facebook

A 38-year-old woman from San Antonio, Texas, faces a charge of publishing intimate material after she posted naked photos of her ex-boyfriend on Facebook, reported the San Antonio Express-News.

Traci Lorraine Aragon, who is being held at the Bexar County Jail on a $2,000 bond, made the revenge porn postings after her unidentified boyfriend ended their relationship.

After the breakup, Aragon sent several nude photos of him to his friends and posted them on Facebook, police said.

When he asked her to remove the photos from Facebook, she allegedly ridiculed and insulted him and said she would “blast him” if he messes with her.

Once he reported the revenge porn to police, officers took screen shots of the postings and text message conversations between the two, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police obtained a warrant for Aragon’s arrest and later booked her into jail.

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First Revenge Porn Case For Cleveland County Authorities

CLEVELAND COUNTY, Oklahoma –
A man is in the Cleveland County jail charged with sharing revenge porn on social media. It is the first revenge porn case for Cleveland County authorities. They are now warning the public to think before you post.

Cleveland County authorities say a Valentine’s Day photo from a previous relationship turned into revenge material for the suspect – 36-year-old Shane Glisson.

When Glisson’s relationship with his now ex-girlfriend went sour, she filed a victim’s protection order in Cleveland County. Authorities said the VPO did not stop Glisson from contacting her. Court paperwork states Glisson continued to email and text the woman. He even showed up to her house and work.

Nearly a year after the relationship ended, authorities said he crossed the line by posting revenge porn on Facebook.

“One of the elements that the suspect chose to do was to take an intimate photograph that had been provided while they were in a relationship,” said Undersheriff Rhett Burnett, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office. “Posted it on social media and began making negative comments about it.”

Glisson was arrested Thursday and is in the Cleveland County jail. Prosecutors have charged him with two counts of stalking and one count of distribution of obscene material – or revenge porn. Sharing and posting sexually explicit photos of an ex to harass or embarrass them is a crime in Oklahoma. Lawmakers passed the bill in 2016.

“This is the first one we have been able to file,” said Burnett. “It met the elements of the offense.”

Undersheriff Burnett expects more cases to be reported once the public knows it is illegal. He plans to go after offenders.

“It is not a joke,” said Burnett. “It’s not a way to get back at an ex or spouse. It is a crime and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, we’re going to prosecute.”

Revenge porn is a misdemeanor on the first offense. The punishment is up to one year in prison or a $25,000 fine; any subsequent offenses are a felony.

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11 Tips To Protect Yourself Against Online Romance Scams

Hundreds of thousands of women and men worldwide fall victim to online romance scams every year. Reported losses in the U.S. alone top $230 million annually, although the FBI estimates that only 15 percent of such crimes are reported and the actual losses are much higher. Most of that money will never be recovered.

Here are 11 things you can do to avoid being scammed:

1. Make sure you actually know the person before accepting a friend request on Facebook.

If the person claims you have mutual friends, verify that claim. Be wary of people who show only a handful of friends on their Facebook page and few personal photos. Maybe they’re just new to social media, but recognize that their profile is giving you very little evidence of their existence.

2. Keep the conversation on the dating site.

Take it as a red flag when someone you’ve recently met on a dating site wants to leave the site’s chat feature in favor of another messaging platform. Scammers phish for victims anywhere they can. But for ease, they prefer to keep their communications all in one place. Scammers like to use apps such as WhatsApp, Kik or Viber.

3. Check their photos.

Use the free Google Image Search to see where else the photos have appeared. Click on the camera icon in the search box and then drag in or upload a picture. Google will show you where that image has been posted online. You can see if it was used by someone with a different name or if it has been reported to a scam list.

4. Investigate what they tell you about themselves.

Google them. Verify what they’ve told you. The absence of a digital footprint, in and of itself, is questionable these days. Check records: Marriages and divorces are recorded. Property ownership is public information. So are criminal records. There are several fee-based services, such as Spokeo, to help you search. Spending a little could save you a lot.

5. See if the text of their messages appears elsewhere.

Romance scammers literally read from scripts. (Scamwarners contains some popular ones.) If you’re worried you’re being scammed, try copying a message from your online friend and searching for it on Google. You may find the identical or very similar language in other links. That’s a major red flag.

6. Invite your new friend to video chat with you.

The fastest way to smoke out a scammer just may be to invite them to video chat on a platform like Skype, Facebook Messenger or FaceTime. Scammers don’t ever want to talk “live” while showing their faces. How can they when they don’t actually exist?

7. Verify where a photo was really taken.

If your suitor says he is from California but his photo was taken in a backyard in Ohio, it’s worth questioning. This site can give you a lot of information about an image, including when and where it was shot. (It doesn’t work if the relevant photo metadata was stripped away, as some social networks do.)

8. Beware of “soldiers” asking for money.

People in the armed forces can certainly have money troubles. But photos of military men are frequently stolen and used in scams. There are no circumstances ― ever ― in which a real member of the U.S. military needs to ask for money for service-related transportation, medical care or administrative fees.

9. Check where the emails come from.

Every computer, smartphone and tablet is assigned an IP address that shows you the country of assignation. Every email has a header that reveals the IP address of the device that sent it. You can learn how to find the header and analyze it here. To understand more about what you’re reading, go here. (And if you want to see if your own email has been hacked, go here.)

10. If you’ve been scammed, report it.

If you suspect you’re the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. The bureau estimates that only 15 percent of victims come forward. Think of it like this: You could be helping some other person who’s being defrauded. The FBI also urges victims to contact their banks, credit card companies and/or credit bureaus to block access to accounts, freeze accounts, dispute charges or attempt to recover lost funds.

11. Don’t send money to online strangers.

Just don’t. Tell a friend or relative about the request.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tips-to-protect-against-online-romance-scams_us_594a90f9e4b01cdedeff861c
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The Avon and Somerset police area is a hotspot for revenge porn

People in Bath could be twice as likely to be convicted for revenge porn, after stats revealed the Avon and Somerset police area as a hotspot for the crime.

There were 13 convictions for disclosing private sexual photographs and films without consent and with intent to cause distress across the force area in 2016.

This was a rate of 7.8 convictions per one million people, nearly twice the England rate of 4.3 convictions for every one million people.

Of those convicted in 2016, 12 were men and one was a woman. The numbers were up from nine convictions, eight of men and one of a women, in the nine months from April to December 2015.

Across England and Wales, there were 293 adults proceeded against and 247 convictions for revenge porn last year.

This was up from 268 people proceeded against and 218 convictions between April and December 2015.

The majority of people found guilty in England and Wales were men, with 216 found guilty in 2016, along with 30 women, and one case where gender was not stated.

Six boys aged under 18 were also proceeded against on charges relating to revenge porn in 2016, with two convictions, compared to three proceeded against and three convictions in 2015. One girl aged under 18 was also proceeded against and convicted in 2016.

Revenge porn, under Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, came into force on April 13, 2015. The Revenge Porn Helpline was launched in February of that year to help tackle the problem of people sharing intimate images of their former partners online.

Judges have discretionary powers to prohibit the naming of victims if identification would affect the case and cause undue fear or distress.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded. Since we changed the law, there have been over 550 prosecutions for this offense which carries a maximum sentence of two years behind bars – proving our tough stance is working.

“By making it a specific offense, we have sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.”

The figures were released by the Ministry of Justice following a Freedom of Information request.

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