Did Mugshots.com Extort People Trying to Have Mugshots Removed From Its Website?
Even if charges are dropped, mugshots can remain on the internet.
Once your mugshot ends up online, it can be almost impossible to remove.
Gleybis Carrera has learned this the hard way — her mugshot has haunted her for years.
Though Carrera was arrested years earlier for driving with a suspended license, the charge was later reduced to a simple traffic infraction. But her mugshot from the initial arrest remains plastered online at places like Mugshots.com.
"When I Googled myself and saw it ... I was completely devastated. Completely," she told Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero.
When Carrera said she contacted the website to remove the photo, she claimed the owners wouldn't take it down unless she paid hundreds of dollars for their "unpublishing fee." Frustrated and fed up with the impact the image was having on her life, she said she paid the fee, and yet, the mugshot still lives online.
"Seven years later, and it's still up there," Carrera said. "Even after I paid them."
She added that the image drives off prospective employers.
"It kinda makes me feel like I'm a joke, like I can't be taken seriously as a career woman," she said.
Carrera is not alone. Jim Wendelken was arrested for fleeing the police, reckless driving and marijuana possession while delivering pizza 26 years ago when he was 21.
Wendelken said the charges were later dismissed after he was on probation and engaged in community service. When he said he contacted Mugshots.com about his arrest photo, he claimed the owners told him to pay for removal of the image as well.
"It's absolutely extortion," he told Guerrero.
One of the alleged owners of Mugshots.com, Sahar Sarid, was recently arrested and charged with extortion by the attorney general of California for allegedly making millions through Mugshots.com by charging people to have their mugshots removed.
Through his lawyer, he said he sold his ownership of Mugshots.com in 2014 and told Inside Edition that Mugshots.com is a news organization doing a public service by republishing arrest information.
When asked by Guerrero whether Sarid was extorting people, Sarid’s lawyer said, "Absolutely not. This is ridiculous. He is not extorting anyone."
Sarid and Mugshots.com deny all the criminal charges against them, and also refute the allegations made by Carerra and Wendelken.
Mugshots.com told Inside Edition they recently stopped charging fees for the removal of mugshots.
Carrera has just one word to describe the situation, "Hopeless. Just hopeless."
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