US Department of Justice slapped a federal indictment on the listings website Backpage.com on the charges that it laundered half a billion dollars in illegal revenue, some with cryptocurrencies.
The 93 counts of federal indictment accused Backpage.com of earning more than $500 million through prostitution-related activities since the inception of the listing.
IRS Criminal investigation Chief, John D Fort in a statement said:
“egregious financial crimes such as money laundering at the expense of women and children and using “virtual currencies… and the anonymity of the Internet” to cover their tracks.
Chief Postal Inspector, Guy Cottrell added that Backpage continuously used to exploit victims and finance their business. The indictment describes the defendant’s behavior of converting payment in and out of cryptocurrency to conceal their crime and evade law enforcement, but the cryptocurrency trail going further with not the only defendant but sex workers’ using it as well.
Guy Cottrell stated:
“By laundering the illegal gains of an enterprise, Backpage perpetuated the exploitation of victims and continued to finance their business”
This has happened after a series of setbacks which befell Backpage, starting with its payment processing system being terminated both by Visa and Mastercard. Attorney, General Elizabeth Strange stated that it was appropriate that Backpage is facing criminal charges and applauded the tremendous efforts of the agents who had contributed to the enforcement action and reassured that the website will no longer be used as a platform where human traffickers will be allowed to thrive.
FBI Director, Wray commented:
“Whether on the street or on the Internet, sex trafficking will not be tolerated. Together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to vigorously combat this activity and protect those who are victimised.”
The joint operation was led by the Justice Department child’s exploitation and obscenity section and the U.S attorney office for Arizona and the charges and allegations contained in the indictment are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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