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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , ,   

    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage’s attorneys 

    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage's attorneys

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

    Tom Dart is the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is the 2nd largest Sheriff’s Office in the country with Los Angeles County in California being the first. Sheriff Dart has long been an outspoken adversary of the now-defunct Backpage.com. Some may say that Dart was one of the main driving forces behind the push to prove Backpage was just a thinly veiled operation designed to facilitate human trafficking. However, now that Backpage has been seized by the Federal Government, Sheriff Dart doesn’t appear to be done with them.

    In a pivotal moment in the fight against Backpage, Sheriff Dart wrote to the major credit card companies and urged them to stop accepting payments for Backpage transactions. The credit card companies complied and cut Backpage off from a major source of revenue. Since Sheriff Dart wrote those letters as the Sheriff of Cook County, Backpage sued Dart claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated. But after Backpage was seized CEO Carl Ferrer admitted that the lawsuit was a hoax. Not only was the suit dismissed, but Sheriff Dart asked that Backpage be punished for abusing the court system but also asked that Backpage’s attorneys at the time be punished as well. Dart argued that Backpage’s attorneys should have known that Backpage was lying to the court but a judge denied that request.

    More recently, Sheriff Dart has renewed his bid to have the Backpage’s former law firm punished as new information is said to have come to light. Dart asserts that testimony given by Ferrer indicates that the law firm was well aware of Backpage’s criminal activity. According to Ferrer, the law firm that represented Backpage allegedly advised them on a number of legal issues including advice on handling cryptocurrency which Ferrer previously admitted to was part of Backpage’s money laundering operation.

    Is Backpage’s former law firm just collateral damage in the legal fight against Backpage or did they have knowledge of what Backpage was really up to?

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , , ,   

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec 

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    We’ve previously discussed former Backpage executive Dan Hyer here. Back in August if last year, Hyer pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to facilitate prostitution. At the time it was reported that Hyer’s plea deal could see him be fined $250,000 and a possible jail sentence of five years. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors would drop fifty charges of facilitating prostitution and 17 money laundering charges.

    Hyer was originally supposed to be sentenced last November but the wheels of justice can move slowly. Hyer’s sentencing date has now been scheduled for July 29th of this year. Hyer was among many who were initially indicted last year but so far was the only one indicted to plead guilty. Backpage co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are set to go to trial next year. While not named on the indictment, former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has also pleaded guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering and is expected to testify against other Backpage executives. Ferrer is looking at a maximum of five years in prison and forfeiture of his corporate assets. Ferrer’s sentencing has also been scheduled for July.

    Meanwhile, Backpage founders Lacey and Larkin are continuing to defend Backpage’s role in human trafficking as free speech. Previously, they have portrayed themselves as freedom fighters and political prisoners without any hint of irony. It’s hard to argue that they fight for freedom when so many of Backpage’s alleged victims had their freedoms violently restricted while Backpage earned close to half a billion dollars in prostitution-related revenue.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , Salesforce   

    Fifty women sue company that helped Backpage out of slump 

    Fifty women sue company that helped Backpage out of slump

    Backpage is no stranger to lawsuits. Currently, they’re being sued by numerous women and girls who were sold into sexual slavery on their website while Backpage reaped the rewards. The most prominent of these lawsuits is the one filed by the family of Desiree Robinson. Desiree was only 16 when a Backpage john murdered her rather than pay her. Meanwhile, her pimp, who could be sentenced to life for human trafficking, was more concerned about finding a replacement for her. Dozens of other Backpage victims have since come forward and are currently suing Backpage damages sustained while being trafficked. Now, dozens more are suing a company who allegedly assisted Backpage while at the same time claimed to fight human trafficking.

    The 50 women are former trafficking victims who had been forcibly sold for sex on Backpage. They contend that software giant Salesforce

    … designed and implemented a heavily customized enterprise database tailored for Backpage’s operations, both locally and internationally. With Salesforce’s guidance, Backpage was able to use Salesforce’s tools to market to new ‘users’ — that is, pimps, johns, and traffickers — on three continents.”

    When Backpage sales were slumping in 2013, Backpge enlisted the help of Salesforce to get Backpage back in business. And let’s not forget what Backpage’s business was. Some people may not see what the problem is. Salesforce was just a business providing a service to another business. Let’s not kid ourselves. By 2013, everyone knew what Backpage’s business was and it wasn’t trying to help you sell your old couch. The people at Salesforce are obviously not stupid, so they had to have known who they were getting into bed with, so to speak.

    The worst part is that Salesforce once bragged about how their software was being used to combat human trafficking.

    Craigslist and Backpage made similar claims back in the day too. They claimed that they were actually helping police fight human trafficking while being the main platforms for it. Back then we coined the terms ‘craigslist conundrum’ and ‘Backpage paradox’ to show how their statements and actions were at odds with each other. Now with more companies getting into the same argument, we may just add them all together under the classification of ‘Schrödinger’s Pimp‘.

    The question that remains to be seen is will the lawsuit hold up under scrutiny? While it can be argued that Salesforce made money off the suffering of others through Backpage, it can also be argued that, at the time, there was no concrete evidence that’s where Backpage’s money was coming from.

    So what do you think? Is Salesforce complicit in the trafficking of these women or were they just doing a job for a website that paid them?

     
  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , , , Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Backpage, , , , motels   

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked 

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked

    As we have stated in the past, just because Backpage is gone that doesn’t mean that the damage they’ve done to their victims has magically disappeared. Many of the victims of Backpage sex trafficking have had to deal with both physical and psychological damage done to them by their traffickers who Backpage helped facilitate. To that end, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage seeking damages for the suffering Backpage allegedly had a hand in creating. One lawsuit recently filed even seeks damages against the motel where the victim was trafficked through Backpage. This is not the first of such lawsuits.

    In this instance, the victim is suing a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico along with Backpage. The unidentified victim is alleging that not only did Backpage actively edit their ads to remove any reference to the trafficking of underage girls, but the motel “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in discovering that the danger of human trafficking.” The victim, in this case, was 17 when a man claiming to be her boyfriend prostituted her through Backpage at the motel in question.

    The attorneys for the victim state that…

    …the motel failed to properly train staff to look for signs of human trafficking, failed to prevent traffickers from renting a room and didn’t install security devices that could have helped deter or identify human traffickers.

    While there are many motel and hotel chains that are trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking there are many more who either aren’t trained or just don’t care. I’m sure we can all think of a motel in our own areas that are used primarily for such purposes. Lawsuits like these should be a lesson for other motels to put an end to this practice whether the victims were trafficked online or not.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , ,   

    Former Backpage CEO has sentencing pushed back 

    Former Backpage CEO has sentencing pushed back

    Former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    If you’ll recall, earlier this year, the Federal Government seized Backpage.com for knowingly taking an active role in the alleged human trafficking of the girls and women posted to their adult ads section and money laundering. The company was also accused of changing the wording in ads submitted to them to make the prostitution ads seem less criminal. Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were indicted on over 90 charges after former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to prostitution and money laundering charges. Ferrer received a plea deal after agreeing to testify against Larkin and Lacey. Ferrer was supposed to be sentenced next month, but his sentencing date has now been pushed back.

    Carl Ferrer was set to be sentenced on January 17th, but he seems to have received a Christmas present from federal prosecutors as the date has been pushed back to July. It’s unclear why the change of date was made, however, a US District Court judge agreed to the request. Lacey and Larkin are not set to go to trial until 2020 so the federal prosecutors are definitely not waiting until after their trials before Ferrer’s sentencing. This sounds more like there’s been some new development in the case, whether this affects Ferrer or Lacey and Larkin remains to be seen, but it does seem like we’ll be waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

    Ferrer is looking at a possible sentence of five years in prison or a $250,000 fine. Even though he’s agreed to work with the government both of those sentences seem paltry in comparison to the lives he, Lacey, and Larkin have destroyed. While a five-year stretch in prison might be a modicum of justice, Ferrer could probably raise the fine money in a matter of moments. However, some seem to think that Ferrer was set up to be the fall guy which if that is the case has severely backfired on Larkin and Lacey so far. If there will be any consolation in this process, hopefully, it will be at least Larkin and Lacey going away for decades-long sentences.

     
    • Albert 12:36 am on January 20, 2019 Permalink

      “the majority of girls and women were being trafficked against their will” … majority means over 50%. Can you please provide an unbiased, reliable reference for this?

    • Geebo 10:15 am on January 24, 2019 Permalink

      First off, please allow us to apologize for not responding to your comment in a timely enough manner.

      However, having said that, since underage girls can not legally consent to prostitution we believe the statistic is more than accurate.

  • Geebo 10:16 am on November 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , ,   

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage’s LLCs 

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage's LLCs

    First, we have a quick update on the ongoing British Parliament hearing from yesterday involving Facebook. The hearing went almost along the lines as the US Congressional hearing where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified. A number of politicians addressed their concerns with Facebook’s privacy policies and interference by political agitators with Facebook giving little to no information in response. However, according to reports, Parliament may publish the sensitive internal documents that they’ve seized later this week. This could potentially be devastating for Facebook as the documents could show just how complicit Facebook was in allowing the Cambridge Analytica scandal to happen.

    Moving on from Facebook, Backpage was back in the news again recently. As you may know, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online human trafficking in the US by allowing thinly veiled ads for prostitution on their website. Earlier this year, Backpage was seized by the Federal Government and CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking and money laundering charges. One of the last vestiges of Backpage’s existence was that even after their government seizure, Backpage was still incorporated in Delaware as an LLC in good standing and there was little the state government could do to change that. Now, that all seems to be changing.

    After passing a state law back in June, Delaware is now able to dissolve certain LLCs with Backpage being one of them. Last week, Delaware State Attorney General Matt Denn asked the Court of Chancery to dissolve the four LLCs that were related to Backpage. AG Denn argues that Backpage abused their “powers, privileges or existence” under state law. This lawsuit was the first one filed after the passing of the new law in June. This has far-reaching implications that affect more than just Backpage as various other shady operations have hidden under Delaware’s lax corporate tax laws. Hopefully, this means that companies like Backpage are no longer welcome in the First State.

     
  • Geebo 9:12 am on October 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, ,   

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built 

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built

    Federal authorities are attempting to seize additional assets from Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. The Department of Justice is seeking the permanent forfeiture of more than $100 million. So far, the DOJ has seized $97 million in assets that included money from bank accounts all over the world including those in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The DOJ alleges that the Backpage founders used various shell corporations to try to obfuscate their ownership of Backpage.

    One of the major assets the DOJ is trying to seize is a property valued at around $3 million owned by Jim Larkin’s wife. The Property in the Napa Valley area of California is believed to have been repaired and maintained with money that Larkin allegedly made through Backpage’s advertisements for illegal prostitution and trafficking which resulted in money laundering. This is in addition to properties that Larkin has owned in Arizona and Chicago.

    Think about this for a moment. While Larkin was living up in the lap of luxury in California wine country, countless women and girls were being housed in motel room closets or worse by their pimps and traffickers. Many of these victims had to endure endless amounts of violence and physical abuse perpetrated against them by their captors would advertise these victims for sale on Backpage while Jim Larkin was defending Backpage’s ‘right’ to free speech. If Larkin was any more of a villain he would have lit a cigar with a $100 bill right in front of reporters. So, in my opinion, it’s no small amount of justice that Larkin could be facing a fate where he is possibly housed in a room no bigger than that of a cheap motel room. It’s where he belongs.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on October 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , , ,   

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking 

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking

    A woman from the Houston, Texas, area, only identified as Jane Doe, has filed a lawsuit against Backpage where she was allegedly trafficked while she was underage. This should come as no surprise as former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer had admitted to the fact that Backpage knowingly made money off of the sex trafficking of girls and women. Jane Doe is also suing two area Houston hotels which is also not unheard of as many trafficking victims believe that the hotels should do more to be aware of trafficking victims. What is really making headlines about this suit is that the victim has also filed a suit against Facebook for allegedly failing to prevent her from being approached by a pimp.

    The victim claims that she was 15 in 2012 when a pimp first approached her through Facebook. As online traffickers tend to do, the pimp consoled her after a fight with her parents. The pimp was said to be Facebook friends with a number of her real friends and promised the victim a job as a model. When the victim met the pimp she was beaten and sexually assaulted before being advertised on Backpage. The suit claims Facebook allows traffickers to “stalk, exploit, recruit, groom … and extort children into the sex trade.” Even though I’ve been a very vocal critic of Facebook, at first glance I thought the suit against Facebook may have no merit, however, the victim makes a very valid point when it comes to the social media kingpin.

    The victim claims that Facebook allowed her abuser to use a false identity that allowed him to approach the girl. For some time, Facebook has prided itself on having its users use their real names, even going as far as to ban accounts that use pseudonyms. As has been demonstrated in the past, Facebook seems to enforce their own policies rather arbitrarily and haphazardly. While I’m far from being a legal expert it seems that since banning false accounts is a well established and practiced Facebook policy, this policy may allow the suit against Facebook to proceed.

    What’s your opinion? Do you feel that Facebook should be doing more to prevent human trafficking on its platform or is this lawsuit without merit? Please leave your comment and let us know.

     
    • S. B. 5:15 pm on April 27, 2019 Permalink

      I believe we all seen this coming for a while . Just a matter of when I’m not sure if she has a tight case as fare as Facebook however , if she does I’m sure that Facebook will settle out of court and the media giant will insure a gag order is in place to insure they take know legal responsibility .

  • Geebo 10:22 am on August 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , ,   

    Police doing fine without Backpage 

    Police doing fine without Backpage

    Ever since the seizure of Backpage by the Federal Government, a number of Backpage’s defenders have said that without Backpage, police are hamstrung in their efforts to curb human trafficking and that instances of human trafficking have not decreased since Backpage’s closure. However, you couldn’t tell that by looking at Cook County, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has a long history of innovating in the fight against online human trafficking and have not rested on their laurels just because Backpage is gone.

    Recently, Cook County and neighboring jurisdictions in Illinois conducted operations that resulted in the arrest of close to 80 alleged johns who were looking for sex online. Authorities placed several ads on various escort websites in order to try to track those interested in buying victims for sexual purposes. Police involved in the operation say that the ads would receive three inquiries per ad while ads on Backpage used to average 17 inquiries per ad. In a region that includes the country’s third largest city, Chicago, this goes to show that Backpage’s closure is having a positive effect in helping to curb human trafficking.

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) once said that Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking in the US and that Backpage wasn’t the most helpful when it came to NCMEC’s requests for assistance in helping to find missing children being peddled on Backpage. Backpage could not be both the source of and solution to human trafficking as some would have you believe. Anybody who says that Backpage’s closure hasn’t been a help to the victims of human trafficking is not only selling our police short but is using these excuses to try to justify their own behavior.

     
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