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Revenge Porn Website Operator May Be ‘Catfishing’, Impersonating Woman To Obtain Nude Photos

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Craig Brittain (credit: CBS)

Craig Brittain (credit: CBS)

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Investigator Brian Maass

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)- An ongoing CBS4 Investigation has found indications that Craig Brittain, the operator of a Colorado Springs-based “revenge porn” website, may have pretended he was a woman to trick other women into sending him nude pictures.

The phenomena is known these days as “catfishing”- fabricating an online identity to trick unsuspecting web users into establishing a relationship.

“It’s going to be pretty big,” said Denver attorney Andrew Contiguglia of the new information turned up by CBS4.

Contiguglia represents two people whose nude photos were posted on Brittain’s so called “revenge porn” website.

“He’s absolutely being deceitful and he needs to be held accountable for that,” said Contiguglia, after reviewing the CBS4 information.

Brittain’s site harvests nude pictures of women from across the U.S and numerous foreign countries.

Brittain estimates he has obtained explicit pictures of approximately 700 women. He then couples the photos with their Facebook pages and occasionally their phone numbers.

Some call what he is doing “humiliation porn’. The site can be viewed for free. Brittain said he is making about $3,000 per month from advertising.

Brittain has long maintained what he is doing is protected by the Communications Decency Act which provides broad protections for website owners and operators who are simply allowing other people to upload content.

Asked during an interview how he obtains the nude pictures Brittain responded, “Other people send them in. They use the email function on our site, they read our disclaimers and agree to the agreement for content on the site.”

Brittain said people submitting photos provide “a statement they haven’t illegally acquired those pictures.”

He has repeatedly insisted he has no active role in obtaining the explicit pictures.

But the CBS4 Investigation found a woman in Colorado who appears to have been duped by Brittain. The woman was in a “woman to woman” forum on Craigslist in August 2012. She met another woman named “Jess Davis” and the two began emailing.

She said she told “Davis” she was “just looking for some fun, to hang out, experiment.”

Davis, using the email jessdavis877@gmail.com wrote, ”Hey, I’m Jess, I’m 24. Here’s some pics of me.”

She sent along four nude pictures and a request to the Colorado woman, “Please send your name, age, and pics back.”

Davis said she was looking for “just some fun. When is your birthday? Also, what’s your number?”

“I sent my pictures back,” said the Colorado woman. She sent multiple photos, one of them explicit, along with her birthday and phone number. She says she never again heard from Jess Davis.

But five days later, her pictures, phone number, birthday and Facebook profile were all posted on Craig Brittain’s website.

“I was livid. I felt violated to say the least. I wanted to throw up I was so distraught. This was something I didn’t want the world to see, to have easy access to,” said the woman.

CBS4 has now examined the electronic footprint left by Jess Davis’s emails. They show that Jess Davis’ emails originated from the same IP address and same home as the one Craig Brittain was living in Colorado Springs in August 2012.

Additionally, Brittain’s and Davis’ emails were all sent using the same mail program, DreamMail version 4.6.9.2.

After seeing what CBS4 was able to glean from the emails, the Colorado woman believes she was tricked by Craig Brittain.

“Absolutely. I’m just shocked. What a sick, twisted mind. Just appalling,” she said.

Dr. Nicholas Weaver, a Berkeley based researcher specializing in Network Security and network measurement at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, also analyzed the CBS4 findings.

“I conclude that these mails were sent from the same household and likely sent from the same computer (because of the obscure mail software), as Craig Brittain. Thus the natural conclusion is that it is almost certain that Craig Brittain composed the “Jess Davis” emails and therefore was actively soliciting for content… by tricking victims into providing compromising photographs for his site,” said Weaver.

Brittain did not respond to numerous requests from CBS4 seeking information if he concocted the Jess Davis persona to trick unsuspecting women into sending him sexual pictures.

But attorney Contiguglia had plenty to say about the newly discovered connection, “I’ve got a problem with that. I’ve got a problem with this man going out and tricking individuals into sending pictures for the world to see, and that’s not right. When you obtain property through trickery, that’s theft.”

Contiguglia said he had heard of other women exchanging photos with “Jess Davis” only to find those photos on the Brittain website.

“I suspected it,” said Contiguglia,”But now there’s proof.”

Adding to the evidence, a reverse photo image search conducted by CBS4 on the four pictures provided by “Jess Davis” showed that they had actually come from Craig Brittain’s website, but under a different name.

Contiguglia said he and other lawyers are in the process of building cases against Brittain with the aim of having the site shut down.

At the same time, he said the new CBS4 information suggesting Brittain was posing as a woman to obtain photos should trigger a law enforcement response.

“It’s enough for them (law enforcement) to start an investigation,” suggested Contiguglia.

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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