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The Business of Revenge Online

Mistreated by an ex? Good news, there is a whole industry devoted to you destroying their life anonymously.

Κείμενο Dom Amerena
06 Δεκέμβριος 2013, 1:27am

Dan Golding, the owner of GetRevengeOnYourEx.com and MastersofRevenge.com. 

Dan Golding is a goofy, middle-aged Brit who screws with people for money. He runs two websites, GetRevengeOnYourEx.com and MastersofRevenge.com, where customers hire strangers to anonymously torment and humiliate people who have wronged them.

“Revenge is a natural human reaction. It’s part of who we are.” Golding says from his study in England. “Our website provides a way for our customers to regain control over their emotions, get control over their situations. Essentially it’s a release. Our customers are safe in the knowledge that they won’t go to jail, unless they kill someone, which isn’t a service we provide.”

A fake ID card complete with the target's contact information.

Some of the services provided are sending threatening emails, texts or recorded messages to the “targets”; as well as mailing them packages with used condoms, dirty tampons and voodoo dolls. If you want they can even hit up your cheating husband, mean bosses, ex-girlfriends or ex-friends with (poorly) Photoshopped pictures of themselves in compromising sexual positions. For $25.99 they’ll even knock up fake ad cards (with names like “Anal Paradise” and “Tranny Fun”) with the target’s info, for the customer to post in phone booths, bars or other public places.

Compromising Photoshopped images are a service provided.

Get Revenge On Your Ex was started by Nick James (now deceased) in 2004, after he devised a series of “revenge pranks” to get back at his cheating ex-wife.  He decided to share his tactics with the world and nine years later the site has catered to the revenge needs of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and has 23 employees—most of whom are former customers.

While GROYE was the first, revenge websites are becoming more and more popular. Most of them are strictly about humiliation. ShesAHomeWrecker.com is a site where women upload pictures of mistresses that their husband or boyfriend have been sleeping with (interestingly there are no pictures of the cheating men), while MyEx.com is a gallery of nude pictures and amateur porn uploaded by bitter exes. Below the photos are the girls’ real names, ages, and the suburb where they live; along with links to their Facebook pages. The guys who upload the photos have usernames like “Anonymous 9418” and the girls have usernames like “Dirty Ass Ratchet Bitch With Loose Pussy.”

There’s more to this than revenge, there’s also money. Site administrators routinely request for cash to remove offending photographs. This briefly lead to a trend “Takedown Lawyers”, who would contact websites to get the photos taken down promptly—for a fee of $200-$300.

According to Dan, his revenge sites are completely different. “What we do is about providing closure; about taking control. There’s nothing vindictive about it.”

One of various anonymous email options.

Dan and his team see themselves as providing a public service: sort of like relationship vigilantes. “The majority of our customers are female, about 80-85 per cent actually.” He says. “As stereotypical as it may be, in most of our cases, the husband has gone off and had an affair; the wife’s at home with 2.2 kids and a dog or whatever and her body isn’t as tight, for want of a better phrase, as it used to be. And when he leaves she’s the one who’s heartbroken. He’s got the job, he’s got the career, he’s got the money. So we’re working for the good guys here.”

All the money the site makes is given to a charity specialising in child protection. “We’re not here to profit from other people’s misery.” He says. But it’s hard to know whether Dan is talking about the misery of the customers, or the targets the pranks.

“People burst in tears when we call them,” He grins. “They just start balling. One time we had a bloke throw up over the phone, which was a pretty good one. We phoned up and basically said ‘We’re from an STD clinic and we think that you might have something nasty’ and this bloke just literally threw up over the phone. All of our messages are recorded and played back to the customer. They were pretty happy with that one.”

Customers can write whatever they want, (as long as it doesn’t involve the threat of violence), or they can use one of the insults provided by the websites like: “If you are raped and can’t defend yourself—keep still and enjoy it,” and “Your pussy smells like you’ve rubbed a sweaty tuna steak in your crack” and “God you stink, are you sure you changed your tampon?”

Masters Of Revenge offer "sick & twisted gifts".

“The mail products are designed primarily to humiliate the ex, or the victim or target. We try to get a little bit personal with these packages, so they’re things like used condoms, fake used tampons and that sort of thing. It’s very invasive, it’s trying to get in someone’s face essentially.”

According to Dan, all of this is perfect legal—“If it was real blood and semen it would be completely illegal. But when people receive it, they don’t know the difference. Because it’s done in the context of a spiteful practical joke, we’re totally covered. If people want us to do death threats we negotiate with the customer to tone it down slightly. We sail close to the wind, but it wouldn’t be revenge if we didn’t.”

Being such a recent development, the legality of revenge websites is a contentious issue. Recently the Australian Federal Police reluctantly stated that even if they were uploaded without the victim’s knowledge, the fact that revenge porn photographs were originally taken consensually prevented them from investigating the cases.

An advocacy group in the USA called Women Against Revenge Porn that is lobbying to get the legal status of revenge websites changed, and is developing a class action lawsuit against the site administrators as well as the men who upload the offending photographs.

Dan actually claims his websites have actually helped the police. On two separate occasions (and two separate continents) authorities contacted Dan and his team to help them with murder investigations against customers who had used GROYE. One of their customers was found with over 50 illegal guns and a shrine to the ex-girlfriend who he’d employed them to message.

While this raises questions about the website’s vetting procedures, Dan is adamant that the system works. “You get the occasional nutter obviously, but by and large, our customers are contacting us for the right reasons.”

Those reasons can include getting the ex fired, which is one of the revenge team’s specialities. One of their clients was a woman with two disabled daughters, whose husband was cheating. The GROYE team: “wrote a lot of letters to his employer, made a website saying that he’d abandoned his daughters, and then we sent it out to his client list, and he basically lost his job on the back of that.” Probably didn’t help with those child support payments.

Another of their trademark “pranks” is to target the new relationships of their clients’ former lovers. They send lingerie and falsely incriminating notes in an attempt to try and break them up. Dan says that he’s more than comfortable doing it: “If his new girlfriend breaks up with him because his ex has sent him a pair of underwear then hey-ho, you know, life’s a bitch. The people who are coming to us are victims of a particular situation; people don’t want revenge unless they’ve been hurt in some way. So we sleep easy at night knowing that what we are doing is helping people to right a wrong. We’re not complete psychopaths.”

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