Backpage.com Shut Down By Federal Government

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A local Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson has also confirmed that law enforcement activity is occurring at the Sedona home of the website's founder Michael Lacey.

The site shut down its "adult" section past year under legal pressure, but sex workers had largely migrated to other parts of the site.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocacy groups have long called for an investigation into Backpage.com for allegedly facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking. But Sen. Heidi Heitkamp celebrated the action, saying, "Today, Backpage was shut down". It also known for listings adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.

In the documents surrounding the backpage.com shutdown, there is information from 17 victims who all claim they were forced into sex trafficking - with some of them being children. Several major credit cards stopped processing payments on Backpage in 2015, pointing to the site's connection to sex trafficking. The DOJ alleges that the site has earned $500 million in revenue from prostitution since it was first created.

Last valued at half a billion dollars, Backpage operated in 97 countries and is involved in 73 percent of all child trafficking reports received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Ferrer, 55, was charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping, according to NPR.

The website Backpage.com was taken down Friday and seized by federal law enforcement authorities, according to a notice posted online.

California state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed 39 new counts against Backpage, Ferrer, Lacey and Larkin in December, despite the judge's earlier ruling, and accused the company of running an "online brothel".

Heitkamp helped draft legislation passed by the Senate last month that makes it easier for state prosecutors and sex trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep sex trafficking and exploitative materials off their platforms.

"The seizure of the malicious sex marketplace Backpage.com marks an important step forward in the fight against human trafficking". He has said that Backpage knows it is accepting ads for prostitution, even though specific references to that crime are not present in the ads.

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