Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he hopes the case will send a message. jason redmond

If you've ever received a Facebook or Myspace message from someone named "Deja Stwalley" telling you that you've got the right look for indie porn, now might be a good time to get in touch with the Washington State attorney general.

On December 20, the AG's office filed a civil suit against Matt Hickey, a former tech freelancer and Capitol Hill local, over an alleged porn auditioning scam stretching back a decade. The AG's complaint claims that Hickey violated the state's Consumer Protection Act through "unfair or deceptive acts" while representing himself, and his fake online identity "Deja Stwalley," as being part of a legitimate porn recruiting business. The civil suit, filed in King County Superior Court, also claims that Hickey violated the Commercial Electronic Mail Act by using deception to obtain the personally identifiable information of his victims online. According to the AG's office, this is the first time these laws have been invoked in response to an alleged scam like this one.

The new civil lawsuit comes on top of three rape charges brought against Hickey in October by the King County prosecuting attorney. Hickey has pleaded not guilty to those charges, which involve incidents separate from the alleged porn audition scam. He now sits in the King County jail awaiting his next case hearing.

The Stranger first reported on Hickey's alleged scam in June. We interviewed three women who said that Hickey, relying on online grooming conducted by his fake female porn recruiter identity, conned them into having sex with him under the guise of an "audition" for porn studios. Three more women showed The Stranger evidence that the porn recruiter identity, Deja Stwalley, had tried to solicit them, too. At the time the article was published, Hickey refused to respond to the specific allegations on the grounds that his lawyer advised him not to. A month later, however, Hickey wrote in an e-mail that he wasn't behind the Deja Stwalley profile, but that he knew the person who was and "for their own safety they're doing what they can to remain as anonymous as possible." He claimed he had evidence showing this person "does indeed work in the porn industry," but he never showed it to The Stranger. Asked about the AG's new allegations, attorney James Bible, who represented Hickey at his October arraignment for the rape charges, said: "We don't have any comment."

The 23-page complaint assembled by the attorney general's office goes further than The Stranger's original reporting. According to the civil lawsuit, Hickey registered two fake identities online in order to lure women into his fake porn audition scam. The first was Deja Stwalley, a woman who supposedly ran her own porn recruiting company. Stwalley, whose profile first surfaced on Myspace in 2006, sought out women between 17 and 25 and told them her job was "to help girls who are interested get into the industry safely." Stwalley would then direct women to take photos and audition with Hickey—an audition in which having sex with Hickey was part of the process.

The second fake profile, a porn actress named "Chrissy Baaten," would endorse Stwalley's work. The complaint says that Baaten told women they should take photos with Hickey "every six months at least." According to the AG's office, Hickey registered the second account with Facebook using the e-mail address fakegirl@matthickey.com.

"This is the first elaborate scam that has come to our attention where somebody is setting up a fake business to do this whole audition gig, to try to get people in to take photos, do the audition, the whole bit," Shannon Smith, consumer protection division chief for the attorney general's office, said. "We haven't seen anything like this before."

To gather evidence for the case, the AG's office interviewed eight women who said they had been victimized by the Hickey scam. In addition to citing the messages that the women saved from their interactions with Hickey, "Stwalley," and "Baaten," the complaint also claims that Hickey set up a website in 2007 called New Seattle Talent as a cover for Stwalley's exploits. The website, which is no longer active, included a frequently asked questions section. "Who wants to be a pornstar?" the introduction to the FAQ section read. Answer: "This is the best job you'll ever have."



According to the complaint, Hickey's methods to scam prospective victims advanced with the available technology. Within a span of three days starting on Christmas Day in 2011, Hickey allegedly set up Stwalley's Facebook page, a Google Voice number with a Las Vegas area code that was supposedly Stwalley's contact, and the website castingseattle.com.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson told The Stranger that he hoped the case would send a message.

"We want folks to call us even if they feel like, 'Can I really call the AG's office about this? Will they listen? Will they care if I'm a sex worker? Will they care about my actions? Will they pass a judgment on it?' We don't care," he said. "We want to help if someone is violating the law."

When asked how he might respond to people who say that Hickey's alleged victims should have expected such treatment in the sex industry or somehow known better, Ferguson had few words: "Give me a break," he said. "Honestly."



Andrea Alegrett, assistant attorney general and one of the prosecutors on the case, added that she hoped the case would serve as a deterrent to would-be Matt Hickeys.

"I hope that [the case] encourages people to bring these things forward, because unfortunately, without [The Stranger's] reporting, we wouldn't know that this is happening," she said. "We are going to go after people using deception in their business scheme, no matter what it is."

Each type of violation listed in the complaint carries a $2,000 maximum penalty paid to the state, and each message Hickey allegedly sent that was part of the scheme could constitute an individual violation. This includes messages that Hickey allegedly sent but people never responded to, Alegrett said.

The AG's office didn't offer an estimate for how much in penalties Hickey could be facing, but they said they would pursue the maximum. Prosecutors are also looking to have a judge issue a permanent injunction against Hickey that would stop him from executing the alleged scam, as well as have Hickey return possession of the photos he took and any money the victims may have spent on their fake auditions.

If you've received a message from Matt Hickey, Chrissy Baaten, or Deja Stwalley regarding the alleged scam, you can contact investigator Charlann Schakel at the attorney general's office at CharlannS@atg.wa.gov.

This post has been updated to reflect the correct date of the filing.