The developments follow a two-year investigation , pushed by U. Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and other company officials appeared before the committee at a hearing Tuesday but invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions.
Not turning away their business. Those children were still sold. They just tried to sanitize it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of evil. The company countered that it is actually an important investigative tool for law enforcement to locate missing children and to go after those who prostitute them. Backpage vowed to continue to fight for its rights in court. By Matt Campbell mcampbell kcstar. Help us deliver journalism that makes a difference in our community.
In Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Thomas Dart waged a public campaign against Backpage in , posting a letter to credit-card companies asking they stop accepting financial transactions from the site. Visa, Mastercard and American Express all voluntarily stopped accepting business from Backpage.
The website sued, arguing Dart was infringing on its right to free speech — and won. A federal appeals court upheld the ruling ordering Dart to stop publicly pressing the issue. Supreme Court in December refused to take up the issue.
In December, California filed new charges against the men, this time charging them with money laundering. The trial is still pending. The best we can do is facilitate the capabilities of police to investigate. At least until recently, Backpage was generally fast to respond to government subpoenas and request for customer information, even the credit-card info used by those posting to the adult section, according to Florida police agencies.
Subpoenas revealed that someone posted the ads for the girl using a pre-paid Visa card. Digging further, investigators found that Chamah used the same card to rent a scooter — the same one he used to drop off the teen for a rendezvous with an undercover Miami Beach detective posing as a john. Confronted with the financial records, Chamah pleaded guilty last fall and is now behind bars. Prostitutes and escorts have certainly adjusted to the changes at Backpage.
On post after post, they offer their services in less-than-subtle ways. One girl named Brown Sugar notes: Abigal started prostituting after her ex-husband convinced her to start selling herself on Backpage about a year ago in Georgia. When Visa and Mastercard stopped processing Backpage pages last year, the site started accepting the virtual currency known as Bitcoin.
Now, Abigail buys prepaid gift cards at Walgreens and uses it to purchase Bitcoin through a website promoted by Backpage. But she insists the website allows her to be more discerning whom she accepts as clients. While she is not thrilled with the realities of the daily sex with strangers, the trade simply pays too well to walk away from, she said.
A photo illustration from an ad on Backpage. By David Ovalle dovalle miamiherald.