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California man among many extorted for past sex convictions

Online extortion is becoming an increasingly common crime that can take advantage of a variety of people. This type of internet victimization makes it particularly difficult to escape once someone has been targeted. One form of cyber crime is victimizing people who have previously been convicted of sexual misconduct. This type of extortion doesn't exclude those who have already paid their debt to society and just want to move on with their lives.

A California couple are plaintiffs among several others in a lawsuit that alleges three websites of running extortion practices that target people with previous sex charges. The husband, who was convicted of a sex crime over ten years ago and has since had his name removed from Washington's sex offender registry, found out his name, personal photos, and other identifying information were put online. Despite not being convicted of any crime, his wife's information was also listed on the sites that demanded $500 before removing the information.

These websites have been accused of locking up people's computers or data through "ransomware" and demanding hundreds of dollars to remove the malware, as well as their names from the registries. The people in the lawsuits have refused to pay the ransom prices, stating the practice is extortion and expressing concern that they can easily be added to these unethical registries again.

It's unfair for websites to list personal information and pictures when people with past convictions have already completed their time. Not everyone with a sexual assault charge will go on to become repeat offenders. The damage to someone's reputation and personal life can be devastating with these types of extortion rackets. It's hoped that this lawsuit will put a stop to companies extorting money from those who have already paid for their past mistakes.

Source: CNN, "Lawsuit alleges online extortion, a growing menace," Michael Martinez, Mar. 29, 2013

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