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  • Geebo 8:59 am on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking,   

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads 

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads

    After having the credit card companies cease doing business with them, forcing them to turn to Bitcoin, Backpage has now made it much easier and more anonymous to purchase sex ads.

    According to an article by the Dallas Morning News, Backpage is now accepting gift cards as payment for their ads for prostitution. The same gift cards you can buy from just about any store in the world, from your high-end retail outlets to your local bargain store.

    How it works is you purchase any one of these gift cards, like iTunes or Starbucks or Target, and give the card number to Backpage. Backpage then allegedly turns around and sells the card number for cash. If this sounds familiar, this is the same way craigslist scammers try to get you to pay them. If they’re not asking you to wire them money, they’re asking you to pay them in gift cards. The obvious problem with this is it breaks a chain in the paper trail. If someone pays for a gift card with cash, that’s a virtually anonymous transaction which makes it more difficult to find the victims of sex trafficking.

    So now it’s even more business as usual at Backpage. Just think, some underage girl is probably going to be sold into sexual slavery by someone who bought an iTunes gift card at Dollar General.

    The devaluation of human life continues at Backpage.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking   

    No, Backpage is not an anti-trafficking tool 

    No, Backpage is not an anti-trafficking tool

    A week after the Washington Post broke the story about how Backpage was allegedly creating and editing ads for prostitution, they have now published an article where some experts have weighed in claiming Backpage is a tool for anti-trafficking. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Backpage’s advocates try to say that the controversial website provides a central location for law enforcement to be able to find children who are being trafficked. However that raises the question of how something can be both the cause and solution to a problem. The answer is, it can’t. As has been mentioned several times in the past, Backpage is said to be responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking. Also, Backpage is not as forthcoming to law enforcement as they reportedly claim to be.

    The reality is, if Backpage shuttered their ads for prostitution, in a real way and not their histrionic claims of government censorship, trafficking would drop by a significant amount. Not only would it be one less major avenue for traffickers but it would also discourage would be pimps from finding an easy entry into the world of sex trafficking through Backpage.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, ,   

    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
    Tags: , , Human trafficking   

    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 9:01 am on April 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, , Kyrsten Sinema,   

    Arizona pols rush to dump Backpage donations 

    Arizona pols rush to dump Backpage donations

    While a federal grand jury was investigating Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, it was discovered that the pair made a number of financial donations to various politicians in the Grand Canyon State. While the amount of donations wasn’t that large when it comes to politics, it can appear tainted since Backpage is the largest online avenue of sex trafficking in the US. While the duo also made donations in New Mexico and Colorado, the amount they donated in Arizona was reportedly around $60,200.

    One politician who has come under recent scrutiny due to the donations is US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. She received a donation that exceeded $10,000. Like many of the other politicians who received these donations, once Sinema was made aware of where the money came from she attempted to donate the money to charity. However, should she be under such criticism since Backpage seems to have made some of these donations in ways that seem somewhat underhanded?

    In some cases rather than Lacey or Larkin donating the money themselves, they allegedly either had their spouses or other Backpage employees make the donations. Much like their legal defenses, everything Backpage seems to do is questionable at best, or at least unethical. It almost seems like Backpage can’t do anything that is above-board.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on February 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Children of the Night, Dr. Lois Lee, Human trafficking   

    Guest Post: Why does a child advocacy group want Backpage’s trafficking ads to remain? 

    Guest Post:  Why does a child advocacy group want Backpage's trafficking ads to remain?

    (This is a guest post from crime blogger Trench Reynolds)

    Please watch the following video from Fox 23 in Tulsa about Backpage and their so-called self-imposed shuttering of the adult ads section…

    First off, I’m usually not one to tell police how to do their job, but to the unidentified Tulsa Detective, less prostitution means fewer victims of trafficking. That’s a good thing. Just because 99% of your stings are done online doesn’t mean that your job is dependent on Backpage staying in business. You would think that someone whose job it is to protect the public would be happy that there would be less of a crime instead of maintaining the status quo.

    The part of the video I really want to talk about comes at the 1:21 mark where a screenshot from child advocacy group Children of the Night is shown in support of Backpage. They claim that Backpage helps them find trafficking victims in order to rescue them. I would argue that without Backpage there wouldn’t be as near as many people that they would need to rescue, but Children of the Night’s motives may be more financial than altruistic.

    Children of the Night takes money from Backpage. The group’s director, Dr. Lois Lee, has even admitted as such on my website.

    That’s not even mentioning that Dr. Lee appears to be very close with Backpage attorney Liz McDougall, attending conferences together in Lyon, France.

    Talking by phone one November night from Lyon, France, where she and McDougall had just attended an INTERPOL conference on trafficking, Children of the Night’s Lee lauded Backpage’s cooperation with law enforcement, saying it’s better than any other social network.

    Some may call that a conflict of interest, I know I do. It seems that Dr. Lee believes that Backpage can be both the source and solution of 80% of all online prostitution in the US. In the past I’ve referred to that as the Backpage Paradox.

    Even though Backpage’s adult ads still thrive on their website, only in a different section, if the ads were to disappear it would lead to a vast reduction in he number of women and girls being trafficked for sex, and isn’t that the true goal?

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on January 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking,   

    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 11:05 am on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking   

    Business as usual at Backpage as trafficking ads continue 

    Business as usual at Backpage as trafficking ads continue

    As should have been expected, Backpage’s grandiose claims of government censorship causing them to shutter the adult section of their site was nothing more than a virtual sleight of hand. The adult ads appear to have allegedly migrated from the adult section to the personals section where Backpage can still collect money for them.

    This was first reported by Cleveland.com who were notified by Andrea Powell, an advocate from the organization FAIR Girls, whose purpose it is to rescue girls from human trafficking. More recently it was brought to light by Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of Backpage. Sheriff Dart had the following to say…

    A couple days after Backpage made the switch, Dart said his officers set up a “date” with one of the women advertising on the site and confirmed she was charging for sex.

    “We went out and arrested a person off the site,” he said. “We answered one of their ads and it was no different.”

    While it is free to post ads in the personals section, there are upgrades you can purchase to keep the ads in better positioning and circulation. The Senate Subcommittee that investigated Backpage alleged that Backpage had moderators that would edit the ads for prostitution to make them seem less illegal. If they used their moderators for that purpose then potentially couldn’t they use them to keep the prostitution ads out of the personals?

    Let’s not forget what’s really at stake here. While Backpage is playing games with Congress, there are still women and children being forced into slavery by their traffickers on Backpage. Nothing has changed. Law enforcement and the government must not forget that these victims are still out there and must continue the fight, even if we have to remind them.

     
  • Geebo 12:30 pm on January 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking   

    Backpage shuts down adult section after Senate scolding 

    Backpage shuts down adult section after Senate scolding

    Backpage.com has shuttered the adult section of its site after a Senate subcommittee released a report in which they said Backpage was willingly editing ads to hide the fact that they were promoting child prostitution. That means that according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Backpage was knowingly editing the ads that appeared to have someone underage in them but still letting the advertisement be displayed on their site. According to the report Backpage’s own moderators knew that the adult ads were for prostitution but were instructed to sanitize the ads as much as possible.

    Meanwhile Backpage is once again claiming that this a First Amendment issue that somehow the Constitution guarantees them the right to make money from human trafficking. child prostitution and sexual slavery. While throwing what can be best described as a hissy fit on the front page of their website claiming government censorship, Backpage is willingly shutting down the adult section of their site. Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, put it best in their joint statement to the press.

    “Yesterday we reported the evidence that Backpage has been far more complicit in online sex trafficking than anyone previously knew. Backpage’s response wasn’t to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site. That’s not ‘censorship’—it’s validation of our findings.”

    Since Backpage reportedly receives the majority of their profits from their adult ads, and that their founders are still facing criminal charges, it remains to be seen if Backpage will try to survive as a ‘normal’ classifieds site. However, if one had to hazard a guess on Backpage’s future one might speculate that it would be bleak at best.

    Make no mistake that this isn’t a blow to free speech but a victory for all the women and girls that have been trafficked on Backpage for the past 12 years.

     
  • Geebo 9:56 am on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking   

    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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