"Will they free the machine after you pay?" says a McAfee Threats Report for the fourth quarter of 2012. "There are no guarantees, and anonymous payment systems make it basically impossible to track their movements."
The California husband sent an e-mail to a person who operates SORarchives, who responded under a pseudonym with a Gmail address, the husband said. The husband demanded his name erased from the site. He refused to pay the additional $421 for removal.
"They became fairly belligerent in their response and insulting," the California man said about the e-mail response. "There was some profanity in there too, which they graciously asterisked out."
The federal lawsuit represents a legal initiative on behalf of the California Reform Sex Offender Laws organization, a nonprofit that says public sex offender registries and residency restriction laws don't protect children and instead dehumanize individuals and their families. Saying every sex offense should be judged on its own merits, the group asserts public money would be better spent on prevention, healing and rehabilitation.
Bellucci is president of the California group.
The California couple are members of the group, as is the other California plaintiff, a man in his 60s. He is a registered sex offender and was convicted in 1979 in California for a sex offense, the lawsuit said. The other plaintiffs live in Washington, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oregon.
In a telephone interview with CNN, the California man in his 60s said he has new fears about his safety with the additional publicity from the three websites posting his name and photograph. In the past, he has been attacked because of his registry on the California government's sex offender website. His daughter was harassed out of school because of his crime, he said.
"It misrepresents who I am, and that opens me up for potential retaliation for vigilante violence, which I've already experienced now twice," the man said of the three websites.
He discovered his name on the three sites when a friend searched his name on the Internet and found it listed on the three websites, he said. After paying the websites $79 for an initial inquiry into the matter, he refused to pay the additional $421 the sites are seeking to remove his name and photograph, he said.
"It's a witch hunt," he added. "It's a way to make money off the backs of those who have this horrible tag of being a sex offender, of which people don't have a correct view of what that really means. They have a one-size-fits-all and ... extreme view that sex offenders are damaged humans who will always re-offend.
"That's not the case," he said.
The federal government website http://www.onguardonline.gov/ offers guidance and contact information in case you find yourself dealing with cybercrime.