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  • 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: Albuquerque, 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.

     
  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 11:10 am on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , , ,   

    Indicted Backpage heads start suing each other 

    Indicted Backpage heads start suing each other

    Speaking of Backpage and Delaware, the top brass at the former Backpage are now suing each other in Delaware’s Chancery Court over access to funds allocated for their criminal defense. Through their respective holdings companies, Backapge founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are suing former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and 19 others for alleged actions that prevented Lacey and Larkin from accessing legal funds they believe belong to them. For a heavy legalese take on the suit, you can check this article from Law 360.

    If you’ll recall, when Backpage was seized by the Federal Government back in April, Ferrer almost immediately pleaded guilty to various charges of facilitating prostitution through Backpage. Shortly after that, the government froze most if not all of Backpage’s assets. Now, Lacey and Larkin seem to be accusing Ferrer of sitting on retainers to various law firms that could possibly aid Larkin and Lacey in their various legal defenses.

    I’ll be honest, corporate and financial law has never been my strong suit so I can’t give an opinion on if any of these suits have merit. However, in my opinion, it feels like Larkin and Lacey are starting to experience a slight degree of Karma. Many of Backpage’s victims could not take legal action against Backpage for facilitation human trafficking because of either cost or the pre-FOSTA protections that Backpage was undeserving of. Although, I’m pretty sure Lacey and Larkin are far from destitute. Since they have been charged with allegedly laundering money, it wouldn’t surprise me if they had an emergency legal defense fund squirreled away in some offshore holding the government hasn’t found yet.

     
  • Geebo 9:22 am on August 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, , , , Reason   

    Backpage founders still trying to defend their actions as free speech 

    Backpage founders still trying to defend their actions as free speech

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    Indicted co-founders of Backpage, Jim Larkin, and Michael Lacey, recently broke their media silence since having Backpage seized by the Federal Government earlier this year. Being the media manipulators that they’ve been since the beginning, they didn’t pick just any media outlet to talk to. Instead, they picked one that would not only give them a soapbox but would also write about them in an almost heroic tone. Lacey and Larkin both spoke to Libertarian-leaning Reason Magazine about the charges against them.

    Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the Libertarian philosophy, Libertarians prescribe to ideas of personal freedom and minimal government involvement. They tend to prefer that the ‘free market’ determine most social policies. That is the bent Reason takes when discussing Lacey and Larkin actually hailing them as freedom fighters. However, what Reason seems to immediately gloss over is what happens when the free market ends up violating the freedoms of other people? While writing about Lacey and Larkin as if they’re political prisoners of overreaching tyranny, Reason seems to hand-wave away the fact that scores of women and children were sold against their will into sexual slavery through Backpage.

    As far as Lacey and Larkin go, in their interview, they keep beating the same dead horse they’ve been beating for years. As is can be expected from them, they continue to maintain that they’re right to free speech has been violated as if the Frist Amendment gives them some God-given right to peddle women and children as if they were so much chattel, completely oblivious to the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery in this country. They even have the temerity to claim they feel violated by the Federal Government when their homes were raided during the seizure of Backpage. That statement alone is probably one of the greatest insults to the multitude of victims of Backpage trafficking.

    Let’s be absolutely clear here, Jim Larkin, and Michael Lacey are not victims nor are they defenders of free speech. The only thing that they’re truly concerned about is their wallets and it seems like they’ll go to any length of lies and propagandizing to protect their own interests while the lives of Backpage’s victims be damned.

     
  • Geebo 9:17 am on August 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Backpage, ,   

    Delaware to act on Backpage’s ‘good standing’ 

    Delaware to act on Backpage's 'good standing'

    Last week, it was reported that Backpage had re-registered as a company in good standing in Delaware even though the company has been seized by the Federal Government. Delaware is known for encouraging corporations to register in their state by offering tax incentives that are both beneficial to the state and the businesses. However, it’s not unheard of for criminal enterprises to register as a Delaware corporation in order to try to hide their illegal activities.

    Since the last report came out, the Delaware Attorney General, Matt Denn, has said that his office will seek to have Backpage dissolved as a corporation in Delaware. According to news station WHYY in Wilmington, Denn can do this under a new state law that gives his office the authority to dissolve LLCs that are petitioned to be dissolved. The new law, while promising, reflects that the state isn’t really actively searching for companies abusing the state’s generous corporate tax status. If it wasn’t for WHYY’s reporting and the investigating by a human trafficking support group, the state may not have realized that Backpage was still registered in Delaware.

    WHYY also reports that the Attorney General’s office will not appoint an independent counsel to recommend corrections to Delaware law preventing criminal organizations from registering in the first place, or re-registering after they’ve broken the law. While Delaware’s corporate tax breaks may be lucrative for the small state, there definitely needs to be some kind of system in place for holding corporations accountable when they egregiously run afoul of the law like Backpage has.

     
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