Most people are aware that Backpage.com has been seized by the US Justice Department. This development has caused quite a stir, although a lot of unsavory evidence has surfaced in the past few days. It seems the owners of this platform have engaged in money laundering involving cryptocurrency. It’s not a positive development for this nascent industry either.
The Backpage.com Plot Thickens
What is happening to Backpage.com is quite interesting. After the website found itself in the crosshairs of the Justice Department, things have been unfolding at a rapid pace. With the website now being seized, it seems things will only continue to unravel from here on out. Backpage.com made a name for itself as a place for prostitution ads, including activity involving children.
It is not, however, necessarily the most popular platform among law enforcement officials. That is only normal, as the platform has gained an unsavory reputation over the years. With seven of the individuals responsible for building this platform receiving federal indictments, things are continuing to go downhill. A total of 93 criminal counts have been filed, ranging from conspiracy to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
This latter point is quite worrisome, as it seems the Backpage.com team laundered money using various cryptocurrencies. Even though Bitcoin doesn’t have the best of reputations in this regard, there’s little evidence to suggest cryptocurrency is used for money laundering. It will be quite interesting to see how these charges pan out, as proving that cryptocurrencies were used may be a challenge.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions commented on the situation as follows:
For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike. But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking. I want to thank everyone who made this important seizure possible: all of our dedicated and committed professionals in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and our U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona, the FBI, our partners with the IRS Criminal Investigation, our Postal Inspectors, and the Texas and California Attorney Generals’ offices.
One thing no one will deny is that Backpage.com made a lot of money from its business model over the years. The US Justice Department claims “hundreds of millions of dollars” have been earned. These criminal charges were only a matter of time, as the platform has quickly become a forum where the well-being of women and children was only a secondary priority. From this point forward, the platform will no longer facilitate human trafficking and other illicit services.
How all of this will play out in the long run remains to be determined. It seems the Justice Department is mainly interested in bringing the people running this platform to justice. For now, it is unclear whether any funds have been seized. Rest assured this is not the last time we will hear about the Backpage.com case, although its connection to cryptocurrency remains murky at best.