A California court has just sent a stern message to online entrepreneurs who want to monetize revenge porn: Your crime is a felony and you could face decades in prison. That is a possibility for San Diego resident Kevin Bollaert, 28, who was found guilty Monday of identity theft and extortion for posting nude and compromising images of (mostly) women sent in anonymously by their exes and then charging the victims to take the images down. Bollaert was convicted of 27 felony charges and faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced April 3, report the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.

In 2012 and 2013, Bollaert let people anonymously post more than 10,000 compromising images, mostly of women, on his website called ugotposted.com without their consent. Identifying information -- names, the cities they lived in and links to their Facebook profiles -- was included. His other site, changemyreputation.com, charged up to $350 to have the images removed. According to the AP, Bollaert made “tens of thousands of dollars” essentially by blackmailing women who had already been victimized by revenge porn. Both websites were taken down.

More than 24 women were victims of Bollaert’s exposure -- some harassed by people trying to contact them. One victim was thrown out of her home when nude photos of her were published on his site.  

“It ruined my life and I’m still going through it,” she testified in court, according to the AP. “I lost my family. They think that I brought shame on them. My reputation is ruined.”

Bollaert’s conviction is the first of its kind, although a California man who posted a topless photo of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook without her consent was sentenced two months ago to a year in jail for violating California’s new revenge porn law. (Bollaert's crimes took place before that law took effect.) And on Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission banned Craig Brittain, the operator of a revenge porn website who, like Bollaert, also operated another website that extorted payment from women to take the images down, from publicly sharing any more nude videos or photographs of people without their consent. Under a settlement with the FTC, Brittain will also have to destroy the images and contact information he collected.

“This guilty verdict is monumental,” Carrie Goldberg, a New York lawyer who advocates for victims of revenge porn, told International Business Times. “Bollaert's is the first of three pending criminal cases against revenge porn site operators – all in California, which is a testament to Attorney General Kamala Harris." Harris, a rising star in California politics, is a likely candidate for retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat next year.

Goldberg also cited the FTC’s formal complaint against Brittain as a sign that revenge porn is being taken seriously as a crime. “Yesterday Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Calif., spoke publicly about the federal criminal law she’ll be sponsoring,” said Goldberg. “The federal law will expose site operators to criminal penalties even if they aren’t also engaging in extortion or hacking." Sixteen states have passed criminal legislation outlawing revenge porn, and another dozen are in the process, Goldberg told IBTimes.  Goldberg is also on the board of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, which raises awareness, drafts proposed laws and advocates for victims of revenge porn. 

“We can only hope that others who subject women to this nonconsensual sexual cyber-horror take note,” Goldberg said. “ This goes for the site operators, the uploaders, and the visitors who harass the victims. The law is cracking down on everybody.”