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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking,   

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next? 

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next?

    Jeffrey Epstein

    We’ve been following the story of billionaire financier and accused child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein since the news first broke of the generously lenient plea deal he received in Florida. If you’ll recall, Epstein was given his plea deal back in 2005 by Alexander Acosta who was a Miami U.S. Attorney at the time. More recently, Acosta was President Trump’s Secretary of Labor before resigning after Epstein’s New York arrest. By now you’ve probably heard the news that Epstein took his own life over the weekend. So, how does Epstein’s death affect the overall investigation into the crimes he was accused of committing?

    Many of Epstein’s victims feel like Epstein has escaped justice as they would have preferred to have had their day in court against him. However, Epstein’s death does make it easier for prosecutors and investigators to use evidence against any of Epstein’s potential co-conspirators. Any evidence seized should be admissible against any other defendant without a possibility of a motion to suppress. Ghislaine Maxwell has been accused in civil lawsuits of procuring Epstein’s victims. While she has not been charged with any criminal charges, it is possible that she could be assisting in the current investigation of Epstein.

    Of course, the elephant in the room has to be addressed as many people believe the conspiracy theory Epstein did not take his own life but that instead, his death was a politically motivated murder. Many of these people feel that his death was either ordered by the Clintons or President Trump since Epstein had connections to both parties. However, the truth is more likely less fantastical. While Epstein had been on suicide watch prior to his death he had been removed from it. Also, suicide watch may not be what you think it is. It doesn’t mean that a prison inmate is being watched at all times around the clock with cameras in their cells for years upon end. According to a former correctional treatment specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, suicide watch rarely lasts longer than a week. Not only that, but the unfortunate reality of prisons is that inmates take their own lives on a fairly consistent basis.

    Look at it this way, Epstein was a man who lived a life of decadent luxury and probably didn’t care how many underage girls he had to hurt to get what he wanted. Looking at the rest of his life being spent in prison for one of the most heinous crimes that is even looked down upon by the other inmates, Epstein probably felt that death was the better option for him.

     
  • Geebo 8:16 am on July 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Secretary of Labor quits after Epstein arrest! 

    Secretary of Labor quits after Epstein arrest!

    US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resigned his post this past Friday in the wake of the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein. If you’ll recall, Acosta was the Miami U.S. Attorney who negotiated the relatively light sentence the supposed billionaire received after pleading guilty to state charges of that involved trafficking underage girls. Not surprisingly, President Trump stood behind Acosta amidst the recent controversy.

    Trump said he believed Acosta thoroughly “explained” his decision making at the news conference, which sources said the president urged him to conduct. The president praised Acosta’s performance “under pressure,” saying he did a “fantastic job.”

    However, that wasn’t the only revelation that came out over the weekend. According to part of his indictment in the Southern District of New York, it was revealed that Epstein never bothered to check in with New York officials since he was a registered sex offender and maintained a residence in New York. That’s a potential felony violation that could carry a sentence of four years behind bars alone.

    Epstein is also said to have paid $350,000 to two potential witnesses after the Miami Herald first broke their story about Epstein back in November. Prosecutors argue that this is just one of many reasons to have Epstein denied bond while he awaits trial. Of course, with Epstein’s wealth and resources at his expense, he could be considered a considerable flight risk. A bond hearing is set for later today.

    Lastly, and possibly one of the more disturbing aspects of this story, is that even though Epstein was a convicted sex offender, he was still welcomed among the financial elites and celebrities.

    In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida jail, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Mr. Epstein was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

    Had this been just about anyone else, they would have never been released from prison in the first place. Justice is supposed to be blind, but apparently it doesn’t stop it from being greedy. Just ask Alexander Acosta.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking, ,   

    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat? 

    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat?

    Within the past few days, there has been a rumor surrounding the photo-sharing app Snpachat. The rumor that’s been circulating mainly on Facebook claims that there is a sex trafficking ring operating in Lawrence, Massachusetts that recruits young girls over Snapchat. The rumor purports that strangers are adding your kids as friends on Snapchat and once they do that the traffickers are able to ascertain your child’s location and potentially kidnap them. However, according to the Lawrence Police, there is no such trafficking ring operating in Lawrence and fact-checking site Snopes says the rumor is gaining ground due to a misunderstanding about how Snapchat works.

    Snapchat does have a feature where friends can see each other’s location if both friends agree to enable the feature called Snap Map. But if one of the users does not enable Snap Map their location cannot be found. It’s not an automatic thing that turns on once you accept somebody’s friend request.

    Now while there is not currently a sex trafficking ring in Lawrence, that doesn’t mean that traffickers don’t use social media to approach children. In typical cases, traffickers will target children who are having problems at home or have run away in the past. In many instances, those children will have exhibited some evidence on their social media accounts. This allows traffickers to start grooming them by telling them how they understand the child better than the child’s parents do. In some other cases, the traffickers will promise kids from low-income areas with promises of fame and money and convince the child to run away.

    This could happen on any social media platform and not just Snapchat. These grooming techniques are not a new thing and were even used in the MySpace days. One of the best ways to protect your kids from traffickers and other online predators is to talk with them about how these predators operate and how most strangers online probably want something inappropriate from them. Another good way is to keep tabs on the apps your children may use and who is on their friends list. If it’s somebody that they’ve never met in person that you don’t know it’s a good idea to have them remove that person from their contacts. Lastly, you may want to consider holding on to all your children’s device after they go to bed in order to keep an eye on any unusual messages they may receive.

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

    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: , , , Human trafficking, ,   

    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 April 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking, , , ,   

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case 

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case

    What a $5 car may look like

    As of today, craigslist will start charging $5 for car listings. So as of tax day if you’re selling your car on craigslist it will cost you a fiver. While craigslist has not publicly stated the reason for the change, many speculate that the move will cut down on scam listings. It will be interesting to see if craigslist users will balk at the new fee and if scammers will be willing to pay the fee. Not to mention that it’s almost ironic that craigslist is now starting to act like so many newspaper classifieds that they helped close down.

    ***

    KATU in Portland, Oregon is reporting on a new safety concern when it comes to using ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. Their investigation found that many minors are using the ridesharing services even though their terms of service require a passenger to be at least 18. Some drivers will refuse the fare if they know the passenger is under 18, however, there are many drivers who either don’t know the rules or don’t care. According to KATU, some parents are even ok with their older kids using an Uber or Lyft. If you’re a parent, would you be ok with letting your kid use an Uber or Lyft alone?

    ***

    Lastly for today, it was recently reported that the investigation that allegedly caught New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft using a massage parlor did not find any evidence of human trafficking. Critics have dismissed this investigation as a witch hunt of sorts and that police were just looking to arrest workers and johns. However, in many cases, those being trafficked are unwilling to testify against their traffickers due to fears of reprisal or threats of violence against their families. To refer to human trafficking as an overblown problem is to dismiss the safety and welfare of all those being trafficked against their will who are treated as slaves.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: car wash, Colorado Rockies, , , Human trafficking, , , ,   

    Fake cash in a safe zone, phony opening day tickets, and an app to report human trafficking 

    Fake cash in a safe zone, phony opening day tickets, and an app to report human trafficking

    When dealing with classifieds transactions, we often recommend using safe zones at local police stations. While safe zones go a long way in helping to ensure your safety, you can still be ripped off if you’re not careful. In Pennsylvania, a pair of suspects were said to have paid $500 in ‘Motion Picture Money’ for a PlayStation 4 at a local police station’s safe zone during an OfferUp transaction. While police were able to apprehend the suspects quite easily, this does show that you should be on your guard at all times even when using specially designated safe zones.

    Meanwhile, in Colorado, a couple found themselves out of $300 after trying to purchase opening day tickets for the Colorado Rockies. They had set up a ticket purchase through craigslist and had met the seller in the parking lot of Coors Field on opening day. The couple even took a picture of the man selling the tickets and his driver license in hopes that this would dissuade the man from selling them fake tickets. Unfortunately, it didn’t as the couple were turned away from the gate for the tickets being invalid. The tickets themselves appeared to be legitimate but what scammers do in many cases is they buy the tickets using stolen credit cards. Once the cards are reported stolen the tickets are canceled but the scammer already has physical tickets that were valid at one time. This particular scammer reportedly even taunted his victims after they tried to contact the seller over the phony tickets.

    Lastly, in the UK, an app has been developed to report possible human trafficking at car washes. The app was developed by an anti-slavery arm of the Church of England and shows users a checklist of signs of human trafficking at hands only car washes. A number of the victims at UK car washes turn out to be people displaced by immigration issues, mental health issues, or being in abusive situations. The app refers any possible sightings of trafficking to the UK’s National Crime Agency who decide if it warrants an investigation. While apps like this have been attempted in the US many don’t show the user how to recognize the signs of trafficking. An app like this designed by the FBI and suggested to the industries where human trafficking mostly takes place could be a boon in the fight against all forms of human trafficking. In the meantime, if you or someone you know could be caught up in trafficking you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or at their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking, , 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 8:05 am on March 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Cashless stores and Amazon, Facebook and hate, and Robert Kraft apologizes 

    Cashless stores and Amazon, Facebook and hate, and Robert Kraft apologizes

    Here are some follow-ups to stories we have discussed in the past.

    Both New Jersey and Philadelphia have banned cashless stores from operating within their jurisdictions. Not surprisingly, the city of San Francisco is moving toward a similar ban. Previously, Amazon had lobbied against the laws in both Jersey and Philly since the allure of its Amazon Go stores are that you can walk in and out without having to deal with a cashier and the stores are cashless with all payment being taken through a smartphone app. The problem with cashless stores is that they exclude lower-income families who don’t have easy access to such things as debit and credit cards or smartphone apps. While prepaid debit cards can be purchased, the rates for these cards can often be described as predatory. It’s unclear what Amazon can use to try to push cities into going cashless as their Go Stores offer little to no opportunities for employment.

    During the horrific mass shooting that recently took place in New Zealand where a white supremacist shot and killed 50 mosque attendees, the assailant broadcast the attack over Facebook live. The attack was said to have been viewed at least 4,000 times before it was removed from Facebook. Facebook claims that it didn’t pull the video sooner because none of their users had reported it. That seems like an awfully convenient excuse considering that in the past it’s been alleged that Facebook counts on controversy to keep their users engaged which in turn results in more views for advertisers. Toward that, a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald asks why Facebook can curb such videos from terrorist groups like ISIS but couldn’t stop the broadcast of this hate-monger? Again the answer seems to be because it’s not profitable for Facebook to do so.

    Lastly today, we have a follow-up about the story of Robert Kraft. As we’ve previously posted, the New England Patriots owner was caught up in a human trafficking sting in Florida where Kraft was allegedly caught using the services of a massage parlor. We also discussed how the living arrangements and the treatment of trafficked women in those parlors can be harrowing. Over this past weekend, Kraft is said to have apologized for his actions. In the apology, Kraft seems to apologize mostly to his friends and family for letting them down but not to the women he allegedly paid for services whose lives are treated like cattle by their traffickers. In essence, he’s apologizing that he got caught which again takes the spotlight away from the victims of this degrading practice.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ghislaine Maxwell, Human trafficking, ,   

    Who is the John Doe trying to stop the release of the Jeffrey Epstein documents? 

    Who is the John Doe trying to stop the release of the Jeffery Epstein documents?

    Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein

    Since we’ve been discussing the case of financier Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged child trafficking ring and his cushy plea deal given to him by the current Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, we neglected to mention another major player in this twisted saga. That would be socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who has been accused of but never charged with, recruiting underage girls to be in Epstein’s unwilling harem.

    To that end, Maxwell was sued for defamation by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, after Maxwell had accused Giuffre of lying about Epstein. The case was eventually settled out of court in Giuffre’s favor, however, the documents from the lawsuit have been sealed ever since. The Miami Herald and several other news organizations have filed motions to have the documents unsealed. It’s believed that the documents will shed light not only on Epstein’s illicit activities but the names of others involved which are rumored to be some very high-profile individuals.

    Now the Herald is reporting that two people have filed motions to keep the documents sealed. The first is only identified as Jane Doe and she claims to be a former victim of Epstein. Reports say that she’s ok with some documents being released as long as she is not identified. In today’s highly charged and volatile climate that’s not an unreasonable request. However, the second person who filed a motion is identified as John Doe. He claims that he has never been publicly identified or accused as an accomplice of Epstein.

    So if this mystery man has never been accused of any wrongdoing then why block the unsealing of the documents? what does this John Doe have to gain at the expense of the dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims? Don’t they deserve justice instead of more secrets, red tape, and more legal wranglings? As founding father Thomas Paine once said: “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”

     
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