Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

It was a cellphone name each father or mother dreads. Charlotte Laws heard her daughter’s voice tremble on the finish of the road. And it took simply 4 phrases to ship her thoughts racing: ‘Mum, one thing horrible occurred.’

Was Kayla in hospital? Had there been an accident?

The fact was much more sinister – in addition to incomprehensible.

Graphic, topless photographs of Kayla, then 24, had been stolen from her laptop by an nameless hacker and posted on a sleazy web site for the world to see.

The pictures had been taken by Kayla in entrance of her bed room mirror and had been by no means supposed to be shared publicly. They had been saved safely – or so Kayla had thought – on her laptop computer.

But in what felt like a humiliating assault, in addition to an invasion of her privateness, the pictures had been accessed remotely by a stranger and uploaded to a web site with greater than 350,000 followers.

For Charlotte, this triggered a two-year battle to deliver the person accountable to justice.

She went into what she calls ‘full mum meltdown mode’ and pursued an digital path to uncover her daughter’s tormentor, monitoring him all the way down to the place he labored as a DJ, firing off authorized letters and badgering the FBI till they used her 12-inch-thick file of proof to place him behind bars.

Kayla, she discovered, was removed from his solely sufferer. Although his web site had began with stolen photographs, it shortly turned a hub for so-called ‘revenge porn’ – a spot the place folks, usually males, might share sexually express movies or pictures of companions or ex-girlfriends with out their consent with a view to humiliate, disgrace or embarrass them.

Charlotte’s extraordinary campaign for justice has led to her being dubbed ‘the Erin Brockovich of revenge porn’ after the small-town authorized clerk (performed by Julia Roberts within the 2000 Oscar-winning movie) who single-handedly took on a large company accountable for poisoning the water in a rural American city.

Charlotte’s story, too, has been changed into a gripping Netflix collection, The Most Hated Man On The Internet. The three-part drama, from the British manufacturing crew behind The Tinder Swindler, is being touted because the must-watch present of the summer season and raises uncomfortable questions on security within the digital age.

Charlotte, 62, who’s married to an English barrister and lives in a Los Angeles suburb, says: ‘I did what any mum would do. I defended my youngster. Young folks, principally ladies, are killing themselves over revenge porn.’

Graphic, topless images of Kayla, then 24, had been stolen from her computer by an anonymous hacker and posted for 350,000 to see Pictured: Kayla with mother Charlotte Laws

Graphic, topless photographs of Kayla, then 24, had been stolen from her laptop by an nameless hacker and posted for 350,000 to see Pictured: Kayla with mom Charlotte Laws

The variety of victims of revenge porn have doubled within the UK over the previous few years, exacerbated throughout lockdown. In April, a London Coroner’s Court heard how a 21-year-old enterprise scholar plunged 80ft to her loss of life per week after her boyfriend despatched a video of her performing a intercourse act on him to a pal.

Charlotte says: ‘I hope this collection sheds mild on how revenge porn destroys lives. I additionally need it to supply hope you may combat again, like I did.’

A one-time Hollywood starlet who dated singer Tom Jones for 3 years, Charlotte was working as an investigator for an insurance coverage firm when her household’s world was turned the wrong way up in 2012.

‘Kayla took the photographs within the privateness of her bed room as a result of she was making an attempt to interrupt into appearing and he or she wished some attractive pictures,’ Charlotte says. ‘She was practising poses. She uploaded them to her laptop and thought no extra about it.

‘Just a few weeks later a pal noticed the topless photos on a sleazy web site. Kayla felt humiliated, shamed and thought her life was over.’

The police confirmed little curiosity. At the time there have been no legal guidelines in opposition to the sharing of such photographs. So Charlotte turned detective.

The photos, a search revealed, had been posted on IsAnyoneUp.com, run by somebody hiding behind aliases on social media, together with the identify of his cat.

The founder claimed he had began the positioning ‘purely by probability’ after posting a raunchy photograph of a lady he had slept with on a dormant web site – solely to find 14,000 folks had clicked on it. He realised he had stumbled throughout a enterprise alternative.

But whereas the person was nameless, the ladies whose lives he ruined had been publicly named, and even their addresses listed. Some pictures had been despatched in by ex-husbands and boyfriends, and not less than two girls had been sacked from their jobs after the photographs appeared. One even misplaced custody of her youngsters.

The man boasted on-line of being a ‘skilled life-ruiner’ and in contrast himself to Charles Manson, the infamous cult chief and serial killer who brainwashed his followers.

Such was the web site founder’s bravado that it didn’t take lengthy earlier than Charlotte discovered his actual identify – Hunter Moore, a 36-year-old who had arrange the web site from the basement of his dad and mom’ house in Woodland, California, 400 miles from LA.

Charlotte says: ‘He was bragging everywhere in the web. This sleazeball was sitting in his dad and mom’ basement, having discovered he might work with a pc hacker to steal photos of harmless ladies and make cash.’

Charlotte believes Kayla’s photos could have been used as a result of she was Facebook pals with one other woman whose intimate photos had been posted on the positioning.

Once she had Moore’s identify, she discovered a cellphone quantity and rang the tackle. But whoever answered repeatedly hung up.

Undeterred, Charlotte and her barrister husband despatched a collection of ‘stop and desist’ letters to Moore. But they appeared to solely embolden him.

‘He was laughing at us,’ she remembers. ‘He replied to 1 authorized letter with an image of his penis.’

The 'anonymous hack' was Hunter Moore, a 36-year-old who had set up the website from the basement of his parents’ home in Woodland, 400 miles from LA Pictured: Hunter Moore in The Most Hated Man on the Internet

The ‘nameless hack’ was Hunter Moore, a 36-year-old who had arrange the web site from the basement of his dad and mom’ house in Woodland, 400 miles from LA Pictured: Hunter Moore in The Most Hated Man on the Internet

As Moore attracted extra consideration, his notoriety grew. He had 600,000 Twitter followers, and claimed his web site had 350,000 subscribers with 30million web page views a month, incomes him a wage equal to $360,000.

‘He turned one thing of a celeb and was internet hosting events the place he labored as a DJ. So I went undercover in disguise to serve him papers,’ Charlotte says.

‘I attempted to search out somebody who would take my case on. But there was nobody. I went on-line, went public about who this man was and what he’d carried out to my household.

‘Meanwhile, this slimeball was giving journal interviews and being portrayed as a hero.

‘At first, Kayla and my husband begged me to not become involved. They stated he was harmful and I couldn’t win. But I used to be decided to deliver him down.’

This made little distinction to Moore, and occasions took a sinister flip when Charlotte began getting loss of life threats whereas Kayla was referred to as a ‘slut’ for taking photos of the type her mum says ‘by at this time’s Kardashian requirements, look tame’.

But slowly, Charlotte started to be contacted by different victims. ‘I began including to my assortment of proof and the file was 12 inches thick,’ she says. After celebrities akin to Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence fell sufferer to hackers who ‘stole’ allegedly compromising photos from their telephones and the FBI acquired concerned, Charlotte noticed her probability.

She says that though the FBI tried to fob her off, she advised them: ‘So you’re taking motion if it’s Scarlett Johansson however not if it’s an everyday woman like my daughter?’ This led her, she says, to be put involved with a detective, and whereas an FBI investigation was began it dragged on for 2 years. All the whereas, different girls had been falling sufferer. As she waited for proof to be collected in her daughter’s case, Charlotte helped greater than 500 others who had equally suffered by the hands of hackers or ex-boyfriends. Two younger girls, unconnected to the Moore case, killed themselves.

‘One girl was in items as a result of photographs of a breast process had been stolen from her physician’s workplace,’ Charlotte says. ‘Every girl and woman I communicate to is traumatised.

‘It must be categorized as a intercourse crime. Women I’ve spoken with who had been raped have stated that having revenge porn made public was as dangerous, if not worse, than the sexual assault. With an assault they might select to not speak about it. They might attempt to overlook it for a short while. But with revenge porn, it’s on the market for ever.

‘I’d get Kayla’s photos taken down sooner or later however they’d pop up on one other website the subsequent. This is about hating girls, hurting girls.’

In 2014, the FBI lastly had sufficient to cost Moore with aggravated id theft and aiding and abetting within the unauthorised entry of a pc. They shut down his web site, raided his dad and mom’ home and seized his computer systems.

Hunter Moore, 36, boasted online of being a ‘professional life-ruiner’ and compared himself to Charles Manson as he had 600,000 Twitter followers, claimed his website had 350,000 subscribers with 30million page views a month, earning him a salary equivalent to $360,000

Hunter Moore, 36, boasted on-line of being a ‘skilled life-ruiner’ and in contrast himself to Charles Manson as he had 600,000 Twitter followers, claimed his web site had 350,000 subscribers with 30million web page views a month, incomes him a wage equal to $360,000

He pleaded responsible to the costs, and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail. He was launched in 2017 and is believed to be again residing in his dad and mom’ house.

A co-conspirator was additionally jailed for hacking into Kayla’s laptop.

The MoS made repeated makes an attempt to contact Moore however he failed to reply. He has additionally refused to co-operate with filmmakers.

Kayla, now 34, is at this time a profitable property agent who’s getting married subsequent week. She is understandably eager to remain out of the limelight and – whereas totally supporting it – has chosen to play solely a minimal half within the movie.

‘She thinks it would hurt her profession,’ her mom says. ‘There continues to be such a stigma hooked up to this, prefer it’s the girl’s fault, regardless that she’s the sufferer.’

While her case helped introduce anti-revenge porn laws in California she says legal guidelines within the UK and elsewhere can not sustain with on-line sex-related abuses.

Several different distressing examples are on the rise, together with ‘sextortion’, wherein threats are made to reveal sexual photographs on-line.

‘I’m nonetheless contacted by girls on daily basis and I anticipate that quantity to rise when the Netflix present is broadcast,’ she says. ‘I’m only a mum who defended her daughter, however I’ll make it my mission to defend anybody’s daughter.’

The Most Hated Man On The Internet streams on Netflix from July 27.

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