Hunter Moore. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

How A Mom Helped Bring Down The Most Hated Man On The Internet

Charlotte Laws, a former FBI lecturer, private eye, stand-up comedienne, cab driver, singer, and activist, fought for her daughter and other victims

David Braue

Melbourne, Australia – Oct. 10, 2022

He may have disregarded her increasingly feverish attempts to take down just one photograph — a nude photo of her daughter that was stolen and published online — but by the time Charlotte Laws handed the FBI a foot-high file filled with data about dozens of other victims, it was clear that Hunter Moore had chosen the wrong woman to ignore.

Christened ‘the most hated man on the Internet,’ in 2010 Moore — a self-professed “professional life ruiner” — created a revenge pornography site called Is Anyone Up? whose sole purpose was to publish explicit images of online users without their consent.

One of those users turned out to be Laws’ 24-year-old daughter and now-actor Kayla, who in late 2011 took a topless photo of herself and emailed it to herself as part of a move to free up space on her phone.

Several months later, her email was hacked — and the photo ended up on Moore’s site, along with her name, city, and social media details.

“She found out about it when she was at her waitress job,” Laws told Cybercrime Magazine, “and she completely freaked. She felt exploited, and violated, and humiliated, and didn’t know what to do.”

Cybercrime Radio: Ruining A Professional Life Ruiner

Fighting the good fight.

“So she called me — and that was the first time I had ever heard of revenge porn. And I knew that I had to immediately get that picture down.”

The process of making that happen, however, would soon take on a life of its own as she worked to figure out a way to get legal help to deal with something that was not, at the time, even considered to be a crime.

“It was totally an uphill battle,” Laws said, recalling that “I called nine attorneys initially, and everybody threw up their hands and said they knew nothing about it. And it was difficult because victim-blaming was very common in society, and there was no sympathy for these victims.”

Lacking specific laws, Laws tried to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to argue that Moore was publishing copyrighted photos without the consent of the owners — but after he ignored her takedown notices, she began considering other options.

The breakthrough came when one of her daughter’s friends realized she had also had an image posted on the site — and it became clear that both had been hacked, which unlike revenge porn was already a crime at the time.

Laws — a former FBI lecturer, private eye, stand-up comedienne, cab driver, singer, and activist, among other careers — dug deep into her skills base and began exploring Moore’s site for evidence to build her case.

“It really wasn’t about pornography,” Laws said. “it was about being evil, and humiliating and battering and bullying, and trying to shame, mostly, women — and I have since learned that it’s pretty common that victims really need someone else to fight for them.”

Fighting the good fight

Suspecting that the hacking was more widespread, Laws located and contacted 40 victims whose photos were posted within two weeks of her daughter’s — relying primarily on phone calls to avoid alerting the hacker if they were still being monitored.

“It was a very high-stress time, and very difficult,” Laws said. “I was going at every angle I could try to get that picture removed. I was constantly working on this, and sleeping hardly at all. I had to put my entire life on hold.”

Around 40 percent of the people Laws contacted said they had also been recently hacked — including many that had no idea their photos were online.

Armed with this information, Laws went to the LA Police Department, where she was met with “victim blaming” but ultimately got her concerns escalated to the FBI, due to the site’s nationwide coverage.

By the time several FBI agents visited, she was able to provide the 12-inch thick file confirming that all had been compromised by a large-scale hacking scheme — whose size made it appealing enough to the FBI that they agreed to take it on.

Yet in trying to get criminal hacking charges levelled against Moore, Laws soon found herself being pursued by a group of his followers — he had a Charles Manson-like following called “the children” – who targeted Laws with computer viruses, death threats, hacking attempts, and more.

“There was a guy sitting outside our house on a number of occasions,” Laws said, “and I believe he was probably trying to get into our network. I marched up to him and said ‘can I help you?’ and he zoomed away.”

“It became very scary,” Laws said. “We just didn’t know [what to expect] because these are anonymous people who are attacking you, and you have no idea if they just got out of prison, if they have guns, or anger issues. And that makes it scarier when you’re getting these death threats like this.”

Moore made his own threats after the hacking allegations became public, saying he would kill Laws and threatening to burn down the Village Voice if journalist Camille Dodero wrote about it.

At the direction of the FBI, Laws had assembled around 25 witnesses ready to testify in court, but Laws’s daughter was the only one who ended up testifying.

Changing the laws

Moore ultimately took a plea bargain — including a $2,000 fine and a 2½ year sentence in what Laws called “a very lenient… summer camp” – but that was far from the end for Laws, who has become an advocate for the many people who were finding themselves victims of revenge porn.

Her experiences — which ultimately became the subject of the recent Netflix miniseries The Most Hated Man on the Internet — became a catalyst for a tidal wave of revenge porn laws, which have since been passed in 48 states and many foreign countries.

Yet getting to that point was a major effort, as Laws’ campaigning ran against obstacles including skeptical authorities, unsympathetic legislators, California’s prison population-focused Public Safety Realignment initiative, and even the ACLU — which, Laws said, “believes that we should be able to look at nude pictures of ordinary people, because that’s part of speech.”

That’s little consolation to the many victims that continue to be exploited by people like Moore — who, Laws said, “has no remorse whatsoever.”

To those victims, Laws offered a few tips — including keeping records and screenshots of everything that happens; maintaining a Google Alert including their name; considering “social media prenups” that outline what current or prospective partners can and can’t do with intimate photos; or to contact the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative for support.

“Within two or three days I knew that this was something I was really going to have to put a lot of time towards,” Laws said, “and that it wasn’t just about getting my daughter’s picture down.”

“It was about helping all the other victims. It was about getting the site down. And it was about getting laws passed — not only in my state, but in the entire country.”

David Braue is an award-winning technology writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

Go here to read all of David’s Cybercrime Magazine articles.