Backpage.com seized by the government for illegal enterprise

My experience working with Backpage.com

Full disclaimer: I worked for the Phoenix New Times when they still owned Backpage.com

 

I’ve never been us a fan of Internet classified websites like Backpage.com. My main issue has always been the hooker advertisements disguised as entertainment ads. Everyone knows they were offers for illegal services but nobody took action. The main reason for this is they were the most expensive ads to place and were very popular. Most of these “Escorts” found placing a classified ad was a lot easier and safer than walking the streets.

I was happy to read in the news that the FBI seized Backpage.com and posted the following notice:

Backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

There is no way they did not know about the sex trafficking going on. When I worked at the Phoenix New Times they owned Backpage.com and adult ads were always rewritten. We had one person in the office that handled these ads. She would phone the person placing the ad and tell them what terminology or photos needed to change. For example, she had them to use words like 150 roses per hour instead of actually using a dollar amount. Anal sex was a trip to Greece. There were many other code words to make the illegal activities less obvious. Many ads were also edited because of photos. Many times it was clear the person in the photo was a minor. For those ads, they had to send another photo or allow the in-house graphics department to touch it up a bit for a fee.

Federal government seizes Backpage.com for child sex trafficking and illegal adult services adsHope for the future

Its sick people would want to profit from human trafficking and child sex services. I hope anyone affected by the actions of the owners of Backpage sues them. The should lose every penny they have and will ever have. In my opinion, Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin are scum and deserve to spend a very long time in prison.

For more information about Backpage.com visit Backpage Wikipedia page.

If you would like any more information about my time working here please use my contact page to reach out.

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2 Comments

  1. “Most of these “Escorts” found placing a classified ad was a lot easier and safer than walking the streets.”

    So from what you’ve said…I don’t yet hear any actual statement of child trafficking taking place. Most law enforcement agencies have actually protested the SESTA-FOSTA acts as actually making it HARDER to track down or combat sex trafficking, while at the same time endangering many sex workers who are professional, consenting adults making a living.

    You DO admit though to “never being a fan.” And your only ‘evidence’ of wrongdoing was a person calling ad placements to reword them to avoid prosecution. Again: child traffickers don’t actually use Backpage. The only federal case that was brought against Backpage was ultimately dropped for lack of evidence. Child traffickers rarely if ever used any publicly viewable site that anyone could trace. Again: this is from many of the law enforcement agencies that actually have to try and track down and catch those scumbags.

    What it really sounds like is you’re a somewhat judgmental and Puritanical type who wants to briefly inject themselves into the conversation on the thinnest premise that you once worked somewhere that peripherally handled one website.

    By your own admission it will be worse for many adult consenting sex workers and will do virtually nothing to actually help (in fact in many ways will increase) human exploitation and endangerment. Care to comment?

  2. Sorry for the late reply, Ron. I don’t check my blog comments very often since I rarely get them. As far as child trafficking goes when Village Voice Media owned Backpage.com it was well known that many of these girls advertised were underage. As I said when that happened we simply asked for a different photo or used our graphics department to touch up the photo and age the girl a little while still allowing the description to imply they may be underage. I personally did alert the Phoenix Police Department to this practice and other things I do not wish to publicly discuss prior to my decision to leave my job at the Phoenix New Times.

    We were frequently bombarded by people begging us to stop running these advertisements both in print and online but we never did. There was even one case where a lady contacted us saying that she believed her missing teenage daughter was a girl in one of the online advertisements. Our legal department advised us not to release any information without a court order and refer her to the Phoenix Police Department.

    Recently, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleads guilty in three states to money laundering and conspiracy to facilitate prostitution. His plea deal is contingent on him testifying against several other Backpage officials on these charges as well as knowingly facilitating child sex trafficking via their website. It was common knowledge and even people who never worked there knew exactly what’s going on. His plea deal only gets him five years and I’ve never actually met him so I can’t comment very much on whether or not Mr. Ferrer is getting what he deserved.

    However, I have dealt with both Michael Lacey and James Larkin quite frequently so I feel I am qualified to express my feelings towards them. They, in my opinion, were creepy men who enjoyed money, the company of questionably aged women and the power they had as business owners. There is no doubt they knew about the underage girls in advertisements as myself and a few others did report it to our immediate supervisor and then eventually directly to them.

    Calling me “a somewhat judgmental and Puritanical type” couldn’t be more off the mark if you ever met me. I am fine with prostitution as it is a consensual act between two adults. I know it will never go away so I feel it should be legalized and taxed. Perhaps the taxes could be used to fund education here in Arizona since the teachers deserve higher pay. Also, maybe some of the funds could be directed towards job development so some of these ladies and men do not feel the need to sell their body. If prostitution is legalized though I feel there should be a state-issued card and a monthly check for STDs in the interest of keeping everyone safe.

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