Cross posted from Blackbutterfly7.
On January 19, 2016, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Placer County District Attorney R. Scott Owens, announced the arraignment of Riley Bangerter, 36, of Roseville. Bangerter has been charged with 11 counts of identity theft in a case of cyber harassment. Bangerter was arrested on December 3, 2015 and was arraigned on January 11, 2016. Bangerter has pled not guilty.
In 2011, Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit within the California Department of Justice to identify and prosecute for crimes including identity theft, cybercrimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.
An investigation by Attorney General Harris’ eCrime Unit found that Bangerter superimposed images of his ex-wife onto pornographic images and posted them online, accompanied by her personal identifying information.
When announcing charges against Bangerter, AG Harris stated,
“Bangerter’s heinous actions sought to humiliate, belittle and destroy the personal and professional life of his victim. This prosecution sends a clear message to all who dare to perpetrate the crimes of cyber harassment and cyber exploitation, that these cowardly acts will not be tolerated in California. I thank the Placer County District Attorney’s office for their partnership and commitment to holding Bangerter accountable for these deplorable acts.”
This case caught my attention for several reasons. For one, I am very interested in how cyberharassment has extended into the personal lives of victims, and how lax most states are to investigate and make arrests in spite of having state laws against harassment by electronic means.
In this case however, the identity-theft charges stood out. Bangerter was charged under the California penal code for identity theft because he posted his victim’s personal identifying information on the internet.
Bangerter isn’t the only person charged with cyber-crimes because of AG’s Harris’ eCrime unit. In April 2015, Attorney General Harris announced that Kevin Bollaert was sentenced to eighteen years of incarceration (a sentence later revised to eight years in prison followed by ten years of mandatory supervision) for operating a cyber exploitation website. Bollaert’s site allowed the anonymous, public posting of nude or explicit photographs without the subject’s permission and also included the victim’s full name, location, age, and a link to the victim’s Facebook profile. Bollaert also extorted victims, charging them $250 to $350 to remove the content posted without their permission.
In June 2015, Attorney General Harris announced a three-year jail sentence for Casey Meyering, who operated a cyber exploitation website where he extorted victims seeking to have their images removed.
In February 2015, Attorney General Harris convened a Cyber Exploitation Task Force. It consists of a public-private partnership comprised of 50 major technology companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter, victims’ advocates, and legislative and law enforcement leaders. In October 2015, Attorney General Harris and the task force unveiled a first-of-its-kind online resource hub with tools for victims, the technology industry, and law enforcement agencies.
In September 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two new measures that Attorney General Harris sponsored to combat and prevent cyber exploitation. One enables law enforcement to destroy cyber exploitation images and the other allows for search warrants for crimes related to cyber exploitation. It also allows for the prosecution of cyber exploitation cases in the county where the victim resides or in the county where the images were posted.
California Attorney General Harris is now running for the Senate position left open by the retirement of Senator Boxer.