The four alleged owners of a web site that publishes photos of people taken when they were arrested, have been arrested themselves.
The alleged owners of the mugshots.com web site have been accused of extortion and a variety of other crimes.
The website asks all those who want to have their image removed by hand on a large payment.
It has generated more than $ 2 million (£1.5 million) of people wishing to get images deleted, said Attorney General of California.
“This pay-for-deletion plan tries to take advantage of someone else’s humiliation,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
“Those who can’t afford to pay in this scheme that their information be removed from pay the price when they are looking for a job, an apartment, or trying to build relationships with others,” he said.Money laundering
The Images have been deleted only if the characters represented on mugshots.com the fees are paid, said the statement, even if many had the charges against them dismissed or had been arrested by mistake. More than 5,700 people have paid to have their image removed from the site.
“This is exploitation pure and simple,” added Mr. Becarra. The California Attorney General’s office has encouraged anyone who paid to get their image of “de-published” to come in contact with more details.
The four men accused are Thomas Keesee, Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie, David Usdan and Sahar Sarid.
As well as the extortion, the four are charged with money laundering and identity theft. Mr. Usdan, M. Keesee, and Dr. Bhavnanie are currently in police custody.
In a statement posted on his personal website, Mr. Sarid said that his involvement with the site ended in 2013, after he carried out some consultancy work.
It is not clear what will happen to the mugshots.com site in the wake of its owners have been arrested and charged. The site is still currently operating.