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Haunted by a mugshot: how predatory websites exploit the shame of arrest

[ – 6/12/18]

Gregory Rakoczy was asleep in his van at a Maryland campsite when six police officers knocked on his door. A fellow camper had Googled his name and found a mugshot indicating he was a felon on the run. He was not.

Rakoczy was arrested and held for 20 hours. Afterward he immediately Googled his own name and found that his picture had recently gone up on for criminal charges he had faced 15 years ago.

At that time Rakoczy ran a company that installed audiovisual equipment in homes. He was charged with fraud after his firm sold dozens of clients one model of TV but installed a different one – a mistake he said was made by a distributor, but one he should have noticed.

Most of the 90 charges – one for every person sold the wrong TV – were dismissed after he replaced the TVs, and he spent five years on probation for the remaining ones.

He contacted to take the picture down and they demanded $399, which he paid. But the next day he saw his picture was still on the site and he called them again.

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If you are a victim of this kind of harassment, I have advice regarding some successes I’ve had without spending a dime. 1. File a complaint with the webhost. Often such publications violate the Terms of Service. I’ve got entire websites taken down. Use “whois” websites to identify webhosts and webservers. Threaten litigation if you have to. For example, is hosted on Amazon Cloud (AWS). 2. Threaten to expose the website operators. Most of these sites rely on anonymity for the creators. I’ve had luck threatening to sue and threatening to use the lawsuit to reveal the publishers identies.… Read more »

I guess I am a little slow. Beginning in the mid 90s I open a web design shop. I operated the business for 7 years ultimately building database driven web sites for mid-sized business and hosting. I sold the company to a competitor. The simple idea of building reputation improvement web sites for my name and search engine optimizing them as I did for my previous customers never even crossed my mind…..duh!!!! I have been so busy wallowing in self pity and feeling victimized that fighting back with a skill set I was very good at never crossed my mind……..doh… Read more »

There is a site called BrandYourself which will help you with search results. They have a basic free service, a monthly service which is a little under $10 a month, and a personal consultation service (even on the phone) which is significantly more.

This is pretty gross! I remember years ago doing a self background check after my misdemeanor was expunged! My original charges where showing as my conviction? I called the company and asked for their info (name of person I was speaking to/address)? They wouldn’t provide it? They where demanding I go to the court (1 hour away) and fax them the expungement? Totally gross. I wanted to kill the (sorry) guy

You should of informed them that if you needed to go to court, it would be to sue them for defamation.

I just saw my info on a new one, It’s the first time this has come up on a search with my name.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x