Published: Sun, April 08, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Federal Bureau of Investigation has been shut down Backpage.com, seized by feds

Federal Bureau of Investigation has been shut down Backpage.com, seized by feds

The front door of Backpage.com, as of April 6, 2018. Whether that's a problem in and of itself depends on your individual moral compass, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that the site may be promoting sex trafficking - a major problem that they hope the backpage.com shutdown will address.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocacy groups have long called for an investigation into Backpage.com for allegedly facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking. But Sen. Heidi Heitkamp celebrated the action, saying, "Today, Backpage was shut down". The FBI confirmed that "law enforcement activity is occurring".

Sex workers and sex work advocates are pointing to a larger issue, the FOSTA/SESTA legislation that has made its way through Congress. But the website also has listings for adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.

In addition to consensual sex work, the site has been accused of being a haven for child sex traffickers. The Justice Department promised more information on this would be released an hour ago, but nothing yet from DOJ on possible charges or arrests.

A federal grand jury had been presented with evidence against Backpage since at least February 2017, according to court filings in a civil suit filed against Backpage.

Investigators say in the 14 years it was in operation, the site earned more than $500 million.

Last valued at half a billion dollars, Backpage operated in 97 countries and is involved in 73 percent of all child trafficking reports received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Ferrer along with co-owners James Larkin and Michael Lacey, as well as COO Andrew Padilla, were later charged with money laundering and pimping.

Justice Dept. seizes classified ads website Backpage.com and affiliated websites. "Now no child will be sold for sex through this website", tweeted Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Backpage has denied knowingly facilitating sex trafficking and has noted that it cooperates with requests from law enforcement to help track down advertisers and victims.

"This sends a clear message to any other website who thinks they are going to pick up where Backpage left off, that they too are going to be held accountable for profiting on the backs of vulnerable women", Jimenez said.

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