By Cyrus Farivar . . . Two alleged owners of Mugshots.com—Sahar Sarid and Thomas Keesee—have been arrested in south Florida on a recently issued California warrant. The notorious website publishes mugshots and then demands payment for their removal.
On Wednesday, the attorney general of California brought criminal charges against not only Sarid and Keesee, but also Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie and David Usdan. The quartet has been charged with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft.
Bhavnanie was arraigned by a Pennsylvania state judge also on Wednesday—his bail was reportedly set at $1.86 million. According to Tania Mercado, a spokeswoman for the California Attorney General’s office, Usdan is also in custody.
“This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else’s humiliation,” said Attorney General Becerra in a statement. “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.”
In the same statement, Becerra’s office said that these defendants “extracted more than $64,000 in removal fees from approximately 175 individuals with billing addresses in California. Nationally, the defendants took more than $2 million in removal fees from approximately 5,703 individuals for the same period.”
Mugshots.com did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.