Backpage founder Michael Lacy had his home raided by the FBI's Phoenix branch earlier on Friday, according to 3TV/CBS 5. If you try and go to the site, you'll be welcomed with a statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation instead, which reads...
The Department of Justice seized the servers of online sex marketplace Backpage.com in part of an enforcement action involving the FBI, other federal agencies and attorneys general from Texas and California.
The website posting said U.S. lawyers in Arizona and California, as well as the Justice Department's section on child exploitation and obscenity and the California and Texas attorneys general had helped shut down the website.
The Backpage.com website has been accused of conducting investigations for several years because it was used to promote prostitution and money laundering.
Check out the site's notice (below) and we'll continue to keep you posted moving forward.
CoStar, a US company that runs Apartments.com, accidentally uncovered in July of past year that Backpage had used a Philippines-based company named Avion to grow business in overseas sex trade. But a Justice Department official said the site's operators turned a blind eye to it and should have known children were being victimized.
A representative from Backpage could not be reached for comment on Friday. It said authorities plan to release information about the enforcement action later Friday. Backpage earned $135 million in 2014, according to a U.S. Senate report.
Backpage, started by Lacey and Jim Larkin, former Phoenix New Times execs, is a classified ads website.
President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law next week, said Heitkamp. Investigators stated that the site lost the protection from that act when they alerted posters to key terms relates to child sex trafficking - even going so far as to allow users to rephrase their ads so that they wouldn't be flagged for child sex trafficking, warning them not to use terms like "Lolita", "young", "teenager", or even the term "Amber Alert".
In 2016, Backpage's CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston on pimping charges, states NPR; they were later dismissed. But the judge in the case ruled that the site was protected by the First Amendment, and the site should not be liable for the speech of third parties, Reuters reported.