Monday, 15 October, 2018

Craiglist rival Backpage seized by feds for sex ads, money laundering

April 6th 2018                        CBS News April 6th 2018 CBS News
Charlie Simmons | 08 April, 2018, 02:13

Popular classifieds site Backpage.com, best known as a hotspot for sex workers to coordinate meet-ups, was pulled down by the US government on Friday afternoon.

Numerous other state and federal authorities in Arizona, California and Texas also were "participating in and supporting the enforcement action", the notice stated.

The Justice Department has not released additional information about the seizure, including whether charges had been filed against company executives.

Rob Portman has targeted the Backpage.com website with investigations and legislation.

And, in a turn of events, they have raided its founder's home. "We must keep working to bring perpetrators to justice and get victims the support they deserve". Until this action Backpage.com had been the nation's second largest classified ad service; $135-million in income according to the most recent figures.

"Shutting down the largest online United States marketplace for sex trafficking will dramatically reduce the profitability of forcing people into the commercial sex trade, at least in the short term", said Bradley Myles, chief executive of Polaris, an worldwide anti-slavery group that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

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However, supporters of the site believe the government has struck a blow against freedom of speech, and Morgan M. Page, a writer on gender issues, says now, sex workers' lives are in danger.

The report said Backpage knowingly accepted ads placed by pimps offering sex for money with teen-age girls, some of them runaways or held against their will, then systematically removed words and images that showed the ads' true intent.

M. The website, criticized as the biggest prostitution website in the world, is seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bill is now waiting for President Trump's signature.

In court filings past year, Backpage revealed that it was being investigated by a grand jury in Phoenix, where the site was originally launched as part of the New Times alternative weekly newspaper chain.

Michael Lacey, 69, of Sedona, Arizona, who co-founded Backpage, was charged Friday as part of the indictment, Lacey's lawyer, Larry Kazan, told USA Today.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed that "law enforcement activity" is occurring in a statement to The Verge, but didn't provide any further details.

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