Backpage.com officials indicted following Federal Bureau of Investigation shutdown

Indictment Alleges Backpage.com Ignored Reports of Child Trafficking

Backpage founders accused of promoting prostitution, laundering money

The Republic reported Friday there was "activity involving Federal Bureau of Investigation agents." at the Arizona homes of Lacey and Larkin.

Backpage indictment unsealed: Co-founders...

Five site employees also were arrested, but Lacey and Larkin are the only ones who are in jail.

The federal government seized the online classifieds site Backpage on Friday, but the case remained sealed at the time. In 2013, about $112 million in revenue was generated through the site, and over $134 million was garnered in 2014.

Backpage.com was founded in Arizona, where it is also has banking accounts and servers, according to an official with the U.S. attorney's office.

While the site maintains it diligently tries to prevent prostitution ads, it still allows them and has declined to take steps to confront the problem, the indictment said.

The site had previously shut down the adult section of its USA site, but critics had alleged that prostitution ads had simply moved to other pages.

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Before then, the 25-year-old who has earned the nickname "Cheese Straw" in Holland owing to his stature and hair, hasn't played since September last year.

No-one else at Backpage has provided comment. The indictment says the Backpage ads "included pictures of Victim 11 in provocative positions" and that her traffickers sexually and physically abused her. Though Backpage closed its "Adult Services" section in January 2017, the ads promptly reappeared in the "Dating" section, most recently with very little written copy accompanying photos of the males and females seeking dates.

One company memo simply read, "Do not acknowledge the prostitution".

The indictment alleges, "These strategies are a fiction created to hide the true nature of Backpage's ads and customers". Backpage refused the victim's father's request to remove the ads showing his deceased daughter, the indictment said.

For the record, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 73 percent of the 10,000 child trafficking reports it receives annually involved Backpage in some way.

The indictment alleges Backpage.com started to launder money a few years ago after banks raised concerns.

It would seem that the US Attorney is not the only one that saw Backpage as a "lucrative online brothel".

"It's protecting our children and it's protecting women who are being raped and assaulted daily", said Kasey McClure. And all the children after that who were never reported to NCMEC? This provision prompted a letter from the Department of Justice arguing this provision is unconstitutional. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped the hammer on the site, accusing it of being a global player in prostitution-related activity.

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The issue took a communal turn after the main accused Sanji Ram's association with a Hindu-wing group came to the light. A PTI report said the eight-year-old girl had gone missing on January 10 while grazing horses in the forest.

"Backpage is part of the solution".

The indictment said Lacey and Larkin retained "significant control" of the website and continued to receive tens of millions of dollars in Backpage-related distributions since "purportedly" selling their interest in the website in 2015.

The courts in each case invited Congress to amend the decency act.

Prostitutes have also raised concern that sites such as Backpage offered them a safer alternative to trying to find clients on the streets. The indictment cites the Philippines operation and said internal emails showed it was part of a "five-year business plan" and the "main task is worldwide market content acquisition".

When they were called to testify before a Senate committee early previous year, Lacey and Larkin invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The bill also amends another section of federal anti-trafficking law to ban "knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating" sex trafficking. It is awaiting President Trump's signature or veto.

The FBI shut down the personals ad website over the weekend.

A previous version of the law contained a far more reasonable, strategic, approach, barring sites from being operated "with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person".

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