Special Report: Revenge porn websites targeting women in the RGV

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Millions of women fall victim to revenge porn every single day, and they don’t even know it.

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Revenge porn is one of the most damaging, yet under talked of cyber crimes.

Lupita Mendoza, a vintage fashion blogger from the Rio Grande Valley, has over 30,000 followers on her page Instagram page Kaleidoscope.dream22.

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Mendoza never thought her love for vintage fashion would put her in a position to be a victim of a revenge porn website.

“A while back, I started to receive a lot of messages from my female friends that some of my photos were posted onto this website — onto this pornographic website,” said Mendoza.

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Mendoza’s photos were posted on Anon-ib, a revenge porn website used to exchange explicit photos of women.

“When I found out about it, I wasn’t really concerned at first because I don’t really have any photos of me,” said Mendoza.

Mendoza knew she was safe from any type of humiliation. However, she also knew the other women on the website were not.

“I had friends who shared photos in confidence with their partners, and then, after they broke up, they were leaked,” said Mendoza.

Special Agent Michelle Lee from the San Antonio FBI said revenge doesn’t have to be the sole motivation for the act to be considered a crime.

“There are many instances where individuals acquire photographs, sexually explicit and nude photographs or videotapes of other individuals and post them online or send them electronically,” said Lee.  

Out of 50 states, only 46 consider revenge porn a crime, Texas being one of them.

The bill was amended back in 2019 adding the following excerpt:

The defendant discloses the intimate visual material without the effective consent of the depicted person and with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse torment or embarrass that person.” 

With technology constantly changing  Lee said cybercrimes have been more difficult to prosecute.

“We continue to have to stay on the latest apps that are out there, the newest websites and maybe even how these photos and videos are being acquired.”  

Lee said it is harder to prosecute websites where the server and people running them are in another country.

“There are countries around the world where we do not have diplomatic relationships with, where our legal process is not recognized,” said Lee.

KVEO’s investigation, found the website verifies the users web browser before letting you in.

One of the selections at the top, creepshots/candid and cut for amputee.

There were several comments like “anyone got nudes from Katy ISD” or specific names started to appear. This is exactly what happened to Mendoza.  

“Just my name being attached to a pornographic website made me feel really dirty. I wasn’t worried about my photos being shared – because there are no photos of me to be shared any explicit photos – but I was really concerned someone would get another photo and say it was mine because that could be very damaging towards my image,” said Mendoza.

In 2019, the FBI arrested a 46-year-old man for altering a photograph of two children doing explicit sexual activities and uploading them onto a website.

Lee said this act is called “deep fake videos” and are starting to become more common.

“That is really difficult because you can’t control that. If your photograph is out there on the internet, then someone can take that and modify it to make it look like you are doing something sexually explicit when you weren’t,” said Lee.  

 Revenge porn goes against several social media and big tech companies’ policies and they have steps to take down the picture or video posted.

In Mendoza’s case, posting content is part of her ritual. She said this incident has made her more aware of what she posts.

“It was very eye-opening because I never thought people would save my photos. So now that I post I’m more cautious of what I post because now I am aware that people can take my information, my images and do whatever they want with them because it is out there on the internet. And once it is out you can’t take it back,” said Mendoza.

Unlike Mendoza, many women remain quiet – something that can cause extreme emotional distress.

A study from the Cyber Civil Rights initiative found 51% of all victims had suicidal thoughts and 49 % stated they had been stalked or harassed online by users who saw their material.

“We need to communicate with policymakers – if victims don’t identify themselves and identify that they have been victimized, if we don’t have a way to be able to identify a trend in this crime problem to convey to the policymakers then it’s hard for them to enact laws that could help address this crime problem,” said Lee.  

Lee mentioned silence not only helps these crimes go unnoticed but also makes the list of revenge porn victims even longer.

If you have been a victim of revenge porn, contact local law enforcement and an attorney.

You can also contact the revenge porn crisis hotline at 844-878-2274.

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