Crypto Users May Be Stiffed As Backpage.com Take-Over Leaves Them In Limbo

Cryptocurrency users who advertised on the controversial Backpage.com site may be out of luck on any recent purchases, as several federal law enforcement agencies have seized the online property.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies took over the site yesterday under the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017. Backpage.com has long been under fire because of allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution. It is the second-largest classified service after Craigslist and one of the first to allow transactions in bitcoin.

Federal authorities seized the site and raided the homes of two founders on April 6. There has been no word on how that will affect the site’s legitimate users, who used it for automobile trading and other services and paid for advertising in advance.

Backpage was started in 2004, offering online classifieds for a wide variety of services. But in 2011, it began to receive negative attention for its adult services subsection, as commentors, media and others claimed it was used to facilitate child trafficking and prostitution.

The company’s CEO and other officials were arrested and a series of court cases ensued. Early last year, Backpage did away with its adult services subsection from its US website.

The FBI confirmed that it has raided the home of Michael Lacey, a co-founder of Backpage.com and once the publisher of the New Times alternative newspaper network. Another report indicated another co-founder, Jim Larkin, also had his home visited by authorities.

An attorney for Lacey, Larry Kazan, told The Arizona Republic at the federal courthouse in Phoenix on Friday afternoon that his client had been charged. Kazan said he did not know how many counts Lacey faced because the 93-count indictment was sealed.

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