Malicious Mug Shot Scam Uncovered
By James Donahue
Some undisclosed organization has generated a malicious new scam that is using Google,
the nation’s most popular search engine, to force victims of police arrest to pay up to $500 or $600 to have their police
photo and arrest information removed from public exposure.
This ugly revelation was made known to us by an individual that was arrested on a
drunken driving charge in 2008, but pleaded to a reduced misdemeanor charge, paid a fine and thought that would be the end
of it. Now this person’s police mug shot and record of the original charge of driving under the influence has appeared
on two different Google links.
The fact that these sites appear predominately on Google under this person’s
name is prohibiting potential employers from accepting applications for the few jobs that may be available.
The first link is named “volusiamugshots.com.” This site shows a police
mug shot, the victim’s name, age and the date of the arrest, but gives no further information. The name of the webmaster
is not to be found. On the upper left corner, however, is a link titled “Ads by Google.” Directly under the photograph
is a link titled “Remove Listing.” When you click on it, you get a form to fill out which asks for a credit card
number. You are informed that the link can be removed following payment of money.
The second link appears under the name “Mugshots.com.” Here you find
not only the police photo, but more information about the arrest. It announces that the information is “being redistributed
under the Freedom of Information Act” and that it was collected from a law enforcement agency in late 2011. When you
search for specific information about the arrest all you find is that this person is “not in custody” and under
Charges you find N/A, which means not applicable.
Again, the Mugshots.com site offers an escape link. When you click on “Remove
Mugshot” you are directed to various links that charge up to $600 to erase the link from Google. This site offered a
place to file a complaint, but makes it clear that only licensed lawyers and legal professionals will be allowed to file.
Thus the options are to hire costly legal counsel or to pay the demanded price for getting the link removed.
The fact that these sites appear only on Google under this person’s name is
prohibiting potential employers from accepting applications for the few jobs that may be available.
This is clearly one of the most vicious scams ever contrived by con artists looking
for get-rich schemes. The sites all appear to be following the law to the letter. They are using the Freedom of Information
Act to acquire the images and arrest records from police agencies, then posting the hundreds of thousands of reports on line,
thus destroying reputations and chances of any of these people to fairly compete for employment in an already troubled job
This scam obviously has an almost unlimited source of victims. The FBI reports a
total of 13,120,947 arrests in the United States for crimes, excluding traffic violations, for the year 2010. A majority of
these arrests were for drunken driving, drug possession and other allegations common to most communities and neighborhoods.
Most of these cases are plea bargained to lesser charges or misdemeanors. Some may have been dismissed by the court or found
innocent if a trial was held.
Imagine the possible revenue from forcing all of these people to pay to have police
records like this removed from the Google search engine. These people are being legally blackmailed. And once they pay these
crooks, what guarantee is there that the link will be removed? With this information freely available on demand, what is to
stop many other scammers from getting into the game?