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  • Geebo 11:10 am on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    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 9:07 am on April 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Backpage CEO pleads guilty to human trafficking charges 

    Backpage CEO pleads guilty to human trafficking charges

    Former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    In a previous post, we wondered what Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer’s role was in the Federal seizure of Backpage since his name did not appear on the 93-count indictment against other Backpage heads and employees. Now we know as it has been announced that prior to the seizure of Backpage, Ferrer pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to facilitate prostitution.

    Yesterday, Federal authorities announced that they took Ferrer to three separate states to plead guilty against the various charges against him in Texas, Arizona and California. Ferrer has also agreed to testify against Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. In his pleas Ferrer admitted that Backpage was well aware that the ads on its site were used to facilitate prostitution.

    “I have long been aware,” Ferrer wrote, “that the great majority of these advertisements are, in fact, advertisements for prostitution services (which are not protected by the First Amendment and which are illegal in 49 states and in much of Nevada).”

    Ferrer also admitted that Backpage was used to launder money after the credit card companies stopped accepting payments for Backpage.

    “I worked with my co-conspirators to find ways to fool credit card companies into believing that Backpage-associated charges were being incurred on different websites,” as well as route Backpage money through seemingly unrelated entities, and to use companies which processed crypto-currencies.”

    This virtually nullifies any kind of ‘free speech’ argument Backpage could possibly present in court.

    When asked for his reaction on Ferrer’s arrest, Geebo CEO Greg Collier issued the following statement…

    With the recent announcement of former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer admitting that Backpage was complicit in not only promoting prostitution through their website, but also laundering money, we here at Geebo wish to earnestly thank Mr. Ferrer for doing the right thing. While we imagine it couldn’t have been easy for Mr. Ferrer to make the decision to plead guilty to human trafficking and laundering charges while facing possible jail time and a forfeiture of substantial assets, we applaud him for taking the steps necessary in order to shutter what was once called the country’s largest online avenue of human trafficking. While we have been critical of Mr. Ferrer’s practices in the past, Backpage’s closure could not have been done without him. Many mothers will now not have their daughters sold into slavery on Backpage thanks to his actions.

    In exchange for his plea, Ferrer is looking at a maximum of five years in prison and forfeiture of his corporate assets.

     
  • Geebo 9:09 am on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carl Ferrer, , ,   

    Where in the world is Carl Ferrer? 

    Where in the world is Carl Ferrer?

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Yesterday, the 93-count indictment against seven Backpage employees was finally made public. As previously noted, Backpage co-founder Michael Lacey was already known to have been named in the indictment. What we know now is the remaining six people being indicted for various charges related to the Federal seizure of Backpage. One of the expected names to be listed on the indictment was the other co-founder of Backpage, Jim Larkin, and his name is listed second on the indictment. However, there is one name that’s missing from the list of the seven Backpage employees who you would think would be at or near the top of the list.

    Thanks to the AIM Group, we have a list of those who have been indicted. They include…

    — Michael Lacey, founder of Backpage

    — James Larkin, a cofounder

    — Scott Spear, EVP of a Backpage parent company and one-time part-owner

    — John “Jed” Brunst, CFO of a Backpage parent company and one-time part owner

    — Dan Hyer, the company’s sales and marketing director

    — Andrew Padilla, operations manager

    — Joye Vaught, assistant operations manager

    In case you’re still wondering whose name is not appearing on the list it would be that of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer. However, while not currently under indictment, Ferrer is referenced to several times in the indictment by the initials “C.F.” and not always refered to in the best light. For example, C.F. is said to have rejected an implementation that would admonish Backpage users if they used search terms that would indicate they were looking for a child prostitute. This is the same Carl Ferrer who decided to just ignore a Congressional subpoena in 2015.

    This obviously leads to the question, is Carl Ferrer the reason the seizure took place in the first place? The feds could have had a big enough carrot to dangle in front of Ferrer as he was still facing money laundering charges in the state of California. If that’s the case Ferrer should be applauded somewhat for allowing the internet’s largest avenue for human trafficking facilitation to be taken down, but let’s keep in mind that in the past, Ferrer has never had the best of intentions. One also has to wonder if Ferrer may have been granted immunity from prosecution if he turned on his seven cohorts. Although, I would imagine this wouldn’t make him immune to any civil litigation which probably would hurt Ferrer more than any prison sentence.

    The entire indictment can be read below.

    Backpage Indictment by trenchreynolds on Scribd

     
  • Geebo 9:04 am on April 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carl Ferrer, , , , , ,   

    Feds seize Backpage: A Triumph for Freedom 

    Feds seize Backpage: A Triumph for Freedom

    I think slavery is the next thing to hell. If a person would send another into bondage, he would, it appears to me, be bad enough to send him into hell, if he could. –Harriet Tubman

    In 2010, craigslist closed its adult services section after increasing pressure from the public and lawmakers. The protestors against craigslist believed that the adult services section was nothing more than a facilitating avenue for human trafficking. While some believe, or rather try to justify, that prostitution takes place between consenting adults, more often than not, the person being prostituted is doing so against their will. By the time craigslist got rid of most of its human trafficking ads, Backpage had already been engaging in similar advertisements. The difference between craigslist and Backpage is that Backpage’s business model was heavily dependent on the sex trade. While Backpage may have had a handful of ads for used cars or other items, it made the vast majority of its money from the prostitution ads. When craigslist shuttered its adult services section, Backpage was there to pick up the pieces.

    Backpage didn’t have nearly the amount of public pressure placed on them that craigslist did because they operated mostly under the public’s radar. While most people had heard of craigslist, only those in the know were really aware of Backpage’s existence and role in the sex trade. That doesn’t mean it escaped the notice of law enforcement as many high-ranking investigative officials across the country recognized Backpage for the problem it was. One such person was Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Illinois. While he was later admonished for using official county letterhead in doing so, Dart was able to convince the major credit card companies to stop accepting payments for Backpage. Undeterred, Backpage then started accepting cash, Bitcoin, and gift cards as payment from people who wanted to place prostitution ads on their website.

    Many law enforcement agencies and human rights groups tried to put a stop to Backpage in the courts, but time and time again Backpage would claim immunity under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That section of the CDA states that websites aren’t responsible for content their users publish. Backpage’s constant deflection of responsibility while continuing to make millions of dollars off the sex trade eventually garnered the attention of Congress. When Congress started to get involved in Backapge’s affairs could be cited as the beginning of the end for Backpage.

    The first crack in Backpage’s facade began to show when a congressional investigative committee found evidence that seemed to implicate that Backpage would edit ads that contained keywords that could indicate the person being advertised could be a minor. Shortly after that, the Washington Post discovered that Backpage was allegedly using a Philippine company to seek out people posting prostitution ads on other sites and not only asked them to come to Backpage but tailored ads for them. This led to Congress passing two bills designed to put a stop to Backpage. The Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA, while the House passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, or FOSTA. The combined FOSTA/SESTA bill is expected to be signed by the President soon.

    However, Federal and State investigative agencies didn’t wait for FOSTA/SESTA as yesterday Backpage.com was seized by authorities. Anyone going to Backpage online yesterday was greeted with the Department of Justice’s declaration that Backpage had been seized as part of an enforcement action by not only the FBI, but also the US Postal Inspector’s Office and the IRS. It’s the IRS’s involvement that lead me to believe this is finally the last we’ve seen of Backpage. According to Wired Magazine, there has been a 93 count indictment against seven people involved with Backpage where one of the charges is money laundering. I would even hazard a guess that maybe Backpage and its cabal of founders may not have been exactly forthcoming on their taxes. Let’s not forget that this is almost the exact same way the Feds were able to finally take down Al Capone. One of those people charged in the indictment was Backpage co-founder Mike Lacey. I would imagine that indictments for Backapge CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founder Jim Larkin can’t be far behind.

    Surprisingly, this is not the first instance of the Feds seizing a website that was involved in the facilitation of human trafficking. Back in 2014, the FBI seized MyRedBook which was a similar site to Backpage but on a much smaller scale. In that case the site owners were also accused of money laundering among child prostitution charges. That site’s owner was convicted and was forced to relinquish over a million dollars in cash and assets and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Since Backpage operated on a much grander scale, I would imagine any potential fines and sentences would dwarf those of MyRedBook.

    Since FOSTA/SESTA has yet to be signed into law, its detractors will say that we no longer need the legislation since Backpage was shut down without it. To those I say FOSTA/SESTA is still needed to prevent another website to rise from Backpage’s ashes like Backpage rose from craigslist’s. No woman or child ever deserves to be turned out online like so much property to be sold into sexual slavery over and over again on a constant basis.

     
    • Jennifer Smith 3:09 pm on April 7, 2018 Permalink

      I agree, we do still need FOSTA/SESTA to be signed into law, to aid in the prevention of another festering cesspool like Backpage. Oh, I am sure that the sex traffickers will continue to find a way to advertise their abusive “wares”, but we need to make it as difficult for them as we can.

    • B F 5:16 am on May 31, 2018 Permalink

      What about us willing girls that are now unemployed.

    • Geebo 8:16 am on May 31, 2018 Permalink

      With all due respect, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has admitted that Backpage broke the law by not only knowingly accepting money for ads where the majority of girls and women were being trafficked against their will, but also admitted that Backpage illegally laundered money in order to try to hide profits from the government.

      While some claim that Backpage made sex workers safer that is simply not true as way too many victims were robbed, sexually assaulted and murdered by Backpage users. That’s not even taking into account the number of victims that were abused and killed by their pimps and traffickers.

      Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and if we’re not trying to protect the most vulnerable among us, what kind of society are we?

  • Geebo 8:56 am on August 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Court gives go ahead to prosecute Backpage heads 

    Court gives go ahead to prosecute Backpage heads

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    For the better part of a year, the state of California has been trying to prosecute the CEO and founders of Backpage on prostitution and money laundering charges. Attorneys for Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have repeatedly claimed the three men are protected by the First Amendment. After their first arrest, the three men did have pimping charges against them dismissed, however, the state came back and charged them with money laundering in addition to pimping.

    After their second arrest, the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations would gather evidence the committee says shows Backpage knowingly edited their ads to hide any references to underage girls being advertised on their site for sex. Another crushing blow to Backpage was when the Washington Post uncovered documentation which claimed Backpage was copying and soliciting ads for their adult sections. Backpage’s facade of free speech was now crumbling.

    Yesterday, the Sacramento County Superior Court overruled defense dismissal motions, meaning prosecution against Ferrer, Larkin and Lacy can proceed. The trio is looking at 25 counts each of money laundering and conspiracy to use Backpage to profit from sex trafficking. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has promised to prosecute this case vigorously.

    “Today’s victory doesn’t exact justice just yet against those who would prey on vulnerable young women and men. But it brings us a step closer.”

    If it can be proven Backpage knowingly edited their ads to allow underage girls to be trafficked on their site, it negates their protection under the Communications Decency Act. The CDA states that websites aren’t responsible for the content posted by users, however, if the Backpage was editing the ads, that makes Backpage the content creators themselves, which not only opens them up for further prosecution but lawsuits from their victims as well.

    Hopefully, this ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court is a sign of things to come where the victim’s of Backpage sex trafficking can finally receive the justice they deserve.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    New documents show Backpage’s alleged lies about sex trafficking ads 

    New documents show Backpage's alleged lies about sex trafficking ads

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Back in May, we wondered what Backpage could possibly be hiding by asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to order Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee to either return, destroy, or refrain from publishing documents the subcommittee received in its investigation into Backpage and its role in the online sex trade. Now, we may have that answer. The Washington Post recently received documents from a lawsuit unrelated to Backpage that allegedly shows Backpage was not only creating and editing the content of their adult ads, but they were copying ads from competing websites and actively soliciting people to post sex ads on Backpage for free.

    The lawsuit was filed against a company in the Philippines named Avion. Avion was being sued by a real estate site for copying their ads. Documents that were seized by the courts in this lawsuit also showed Avion was allegedly copying sex ads from other sites and posting them to Backpage. Avion was also said to contact people who would post sex ads on other sites and promised they could post their ads for free on Backpage. Normally, it costs for anyone to post ads in Backpage’s dating section where the sex trafficking ads are now said to reside.

    So what does this mean for Backpage? Well, for years, Backpage has been protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA protects websites from prosecution when its users post illegal content. However, if Backpage is actively creating, editing, copying and soliciting this content, that makes them de facto publishers which no longer affords them the protection of the CDA. This in turn could lead to any number of state Attorneys General to prosecute the Backpage cabal of CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Most importantly, it could lead to an inordinate amount of women and children being freed from sexual slavery.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    What is Backpage hiding now? 

    What is Backpage hiding now?

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected an appeal by legally embattled classifieds site Backpage. Backpage had asked the court that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee should either return, destroy, or refrain from publishing documents the subcommittee received in its investigation into Backpage. Previously a Senate subcommittee had stated that Backpage allegedly had moderators edit ads for prostitution to make them appear more legitimate by having them remove certain keywords that would indicate the person in the ad may be under 18.

    Backpage’s behavior has been more than suspicious since the Senate investigation into alleged criminal acts had started. At first Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer completely ignored a Congressional subpoena stating that business he had overseas was more important. Then when Ferrer finally did appear before the Senate subcommittee there was a lot of fifth amendment pleading. This isn’t even taking into account that Ferrer and Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are all facing criminal charges in the state of California on pimping and money laundering charges.

    So now, the question has to be asked, what is in Backpage’s seized records that they are so afraid of being made public? Is it the proverbial smoking gun that will definitively show that Backpage was knowingly complicit in the sexual slavery of countless women and girls or will it show they were involved in other criminal activity, such as money laundering, because of their involvement in nationwide human trafficking? Lastly, if any type of information like this is revealed, will it finally get the public to wake up to the atrocities Backpage has allegedly been involved in just so they could make a few hundred million dollars?

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on January 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Backpage sued by underage trafficking victims and why these suits are different 

    Backpage sued by underage trafficking victims and why these suits are different

    Yesterday, multiple lawsuits were filed against Backpage in four different states by victims who were trafficked on Backpage for sex while they were underage. At the times these victims were being trafficked they ranged in ages from 14 to 17. The suits, filed in California, Alabama, Texas, and Washington, claim that Backpage knowingly profited from the trade of underage girls on its website.

    Lawsuits like these are nothing new for Backpage. Two of the more newsworthy lawsuits were filed in Massachusetts and Washington, but unfortunately those lawsuits were defeated in the courts. These new lawsuits are different that their predecessors for two reasons. The first is the fact that Backpage heads Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey and James Larkin are being named in the suit. The second reason is that these are the first suits being filed after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Backpage allegedly edits their ads to make the victims appear of age. Previously the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protected Backpage in these suits because the CDA states that a website’s owner is not criminally responsible for the content that their users post. However, if Backpage is editing the ads that their users post, that could render their CDA defense null and void.

    Much has been made in the news about how Backpage shut down their adult section only to have it turn out that the trafficking ads have migrated to the personals section where Backpage is still making money from them. Since Backpage only cares about the money they make, maybe these lawsuits will finally strike a blow against them that will finally make them reconsider their business model of slavery.

     
  • Geebo 11:18 am on October 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carl Ferrer,   

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer arrested on sex trafficking charges 

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer arrested on sex trafficking charges

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Yesterday, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested on prostitution and child prostitution charges after departing a flight from Amsterdam at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport. The warrant, out of the state of California, issued by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, alleges that 99% of Backpage’s revenue comes from the money it makes off of prostitution ads. Along with Ferrer’s arrest, the offices of Backpage in Dallas were also raided and arrest warrants have been issued for Backpage shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin. They’re being charged with conspiracy to commit pimping. Lacey and Larkin were Backpage’s founders and at one time its owners.

    While this may appear to be a victory for the victims of sex trafficking, One has to wonder how this will affect the Senate investigation into Backpage? To date, Backpage has caught just about every legal lucky break in their controversial history. However, those were either for legislative or civil lawsuit issues. Will these criminal charges stick? Many hope they do but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the charges were somehow to be dismissed.

     
  • Geebo 9:56 am on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carl Ferrer,   

    Supreme Court rules Backpage must turn over sex trafficking records 

    Supreme Court rules Backpage must turn over sex trafficking records

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to block a Senate subpoena that had requested Backpage turn over its internal records regarding its alleged role in online prostitution and sex trafficking. In case you haven’t been following the story, back in August, a federal judge gave Backpage ten days to turn over its records to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The subcommittee has been investigating Backpage for some time and has been attempting to get these records for almost a year. Backpage was given a stay after that ruling, but soon afterwards the stay was lifted. This prompted Backpage to appeal to the Supreme Court, which as was just mentioned refused to block the subpoena. The Supreme Court’s ruling makes Backpage’s deadline to turn over records effective immediately.

    Backpage claims that they are being cooperative withe the Senate’s request but would like to receive more time to gather all the records requested.

    Backpage lawyers said Tuesday night they were turning over more than 38,000 pages immediately, but they also filed a request with the judge asking for a delay in the deadline.

    The lawyers said complying with Congress’ request that personally identifying data be deleted will take longer. They said they’ve already spent nearly 3,000 hours of work, involving 34 lawyers, to try to process information.

    “The volume of documents and data required to be processed, reviewed, redacted and logged renders production of every last responsive document and complete privilege logs by September 13, 2016 impossible regardless of best efforts,” the company’s lawyers said, adding that they hoped the tens of thousands of pages they were producing would be evidence of good faith.

    Congressional lawyers have said they would oppose any such request.

    Whether this will be an eventual legal victory for the victims of Backapage’s alleged role in US sex trafficking remains to be seen as Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has already shown to be sort of a slippery eel by previously fleeing the country when subpoenaed to appear before the Senate. However, it does appear, for now, that the victims are one step closer to finally receiving the justice they deserve.

     
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