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  • Geebo 9:12 am on October 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    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 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 9:22 am on August 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jim Larkin, , 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 9:04 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    New indictment against Backpage founders show how involved they were in trafficking 

    New indictment against Backpage founders show how involved they were in trafficking

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    This past Wednesday, a new federal indictment against Backpage and its founders was filed. In this new indictment, the charges of money laundering and facilitating human trafficking remain the same but bolsters the accusations with new evidence. While it was no secret that Backpage was allegedly a willing participant in the sex trade, this new indictment is said to show the lengths that Backpage’s operators would go to in order to make money at the expense of those trafficked.

    AZ Central has a very in-depth article that goes into great detail about the new indictment. What really got to me was how much Backpage was allegedly willing to disregard obvious signs of child sex trafficking. According to the indictment, Backpage once hired an internet safety firm who were said to have found out that ads that contained the phrase “new in town” meant an underage victim was being shuttled from town to town where the victims wouldn’t know anyone and couldn’t get any help. As you might expect, Backpage was said to have ignored this and other warnings.

    Previously, I’ve stated that I don’t think Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey would ever see the inside of a cell even if they were convicted. However, my mind has changed a little on that after reading more about their alleged money laundering. The indictment alleges that Lacey transferred $16.5 million to an overseas bank in an effort to conceal funds. If there’s one thing the Federal Government never wants to miss out on, it’s taxable income no matter how it was made. It was how the feds got Al Capone after all. So maybe there is some hope for justice after all.

     
  • Geebo 9:09 am on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    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
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    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 April 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Jim Larkin, 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.

     
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