Sunday, May 27, 2012

IN - Vigilante Registry - Extortion

The following was sent to us via the contact form and posted with the users permission.

Update: Offendex.com has now split into another site called SORARCHIVES.COM possibly due to this site: OFFENDEXTORTION.COM.


By M:
I am a resident of Indiana. I was convicted of an offense in 1993. In 2001 I was forced to register. In 2011 I completed the full ten year registration that the law required of me, despite an Indiana Supreme court ex post facto ruling in 2009 in my favor (which I was not aware until after my registration requirement had expired). As of recently, my information has been removed from the state registry portal. This is the "good" news.

With that being said, I thought that my life would get a little better. Who wouldn't! I had survived the registry... or did I?

To my horror, after ten years of public humiliation and scorn, what do I find just months after I had been removed from the official law enforcement web portal? When performing a Google search on my name and town, the NUMBER ONE result is a site listing me as an offender! This website had never been there before. It did not appear until AFTER my registration requirement had ENDED!

About the vigilante website: It is called [offendex.com]. It is registered by proxy via Internet Solutions. It is on Amazon servers. The offender information is copied from the state websites. It copied the entire registry, perhaps for all states. The info is not hidden in a database. It is OPTIMIZED for SEO.

The website went live months after I had been removed from the state registry, circa 02/2012. At first it was littered with law enforcement badge/links. It had other links for 'pay to be removed', similar to a mugshot-racket schemes. They demanded a HUNDRED dollars just to REQUEST removal! And with no guarantee of being removed, either!

Now the site has been redesigned without the law badge/links (at least on the page with my info), and it does not 'explicitly' demand money. However there is still a PayPal link there for paying to get the pages removed. (The blackmail remains! The extortion continues!) Furthermore, the site claims that it has no obligation to remove the pages even if you pay them. And they footnote that they have the 'right' to 'republish' the information under state and federal FOIA claims. (The meta description in my Google search result also claims FOIA privilege.)

All of this is very disturbing. After years of chronic unemployment due the state registry, now I am prima facie as bad as before in regards to employment opportunity. This site is acting as a criminal history provider, using SEO to keep me anchored at the top of Google. How am I suppose to put out resumes and applications? An employer is more likely to look someone up on Google than to perform a background check!

And I am not alone. This site is acting under the color of a "legitimate" registry for ALL states in the USA! This means it could happen to anyone else, and is happening! How much data they have stolen from the 'real' state registries under the color of the FOIA, I am not sure.

What I do know is that this should be illegal! No private citizen or company should be allowed to use this information for personal financial gain or harassment of ex-offenders. This is another example of why only law enforcement should be privy to any of this information. There needs to be laws stopping this practice! It seems questionable to me how the FOIA even applies to it. The site needs shut down!



Law Note:

Indiana has passed a new law concerning criminal history providers. It is HB 1033 -- Criminal history and sentencing. It has been enacted into law, but it does not go into effect until July, 2013.

It has penalties for criminal history providers who do not update their info. It also makes such behavior actionable. It specifically mentions the sex offender registry, so perhaps this is a start....



I am a regular reader of your blog. It is an amazing wealth of information. I admire your courage and dedication. I send this message to you for awareness. Thank you for all your efforts to inform people of the injustice going on in our country! You deserve a medal of courage and admiration!