Kevin Bollaert
Kevin Bollaert ran both a revenge porn website and a linked site where victims could pay to have their images removed Facebook

A California man who ran a notorious 'revenge porn' website on which thousands of naked pictures of people, as well as their contact details, were posted without their permission, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Kevin Bollaert, 28, of San Diego, ran the website ugotposted.com, on which more than 10,000 explicit photographs, mostly of women, were posted.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that the case was the first prosecution of a person running a cyber-extortion website in US legal history, reports AP.

Bollaert launched the site in 2012, and ran a parallel site which charged victims up to $350 (£230) to have their photographs removed. Bollaert made about $30,000 from that site, said prosecutors.

He was convicted in February on six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft.

Blackmail victims

Along with their pictures, often sent by ex-husbands or boyfriends, the victim's full name, age and location were posted on their site, along with links to their social media accounts.

In the San Diego court, victims described how the site had devastated their lives.

One said that she had received more than 400 messages on social media after her pictures were posted, and she was forced to quit her university degree and seek treatment in a mental hospital as a result of the harassment.

"It's been so traumatic," she said. "It's a daily struggle to get my life together," she said, reports the LA Times.

Emails were read out in court in which victims had implored Bollaert to remove their pictures, and described the harassment they suffered as a result of their pictures being posted.

Bollaert reportedly wept when he listened to testimony from his victims and family.

Before sentencing, Bollaert's parents told Superior Court Judge David Gill that their son regretted his actions.

"Sitting behind a computer, committing what is essentially a cowardly and criminal act, will not shield predators from the law or jail," said Harris.

The Cybersmile Foundation offers a free helpline for people affected by cyberbullying, whether directly or indirectly. The helpline is available worldwide on +44 (0)800 783 1113.