#PedoGate Victory: FBI raids Backpage founder’s Sedona home; website down

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from azcentral.com:

Local FBI officials confirmed “law enforcement activity” Friday morning at the Sedona-area home of Michael Lacey, a co-founder of the controversial classified-ad website Backpage.com.

The raid comes amid what appears to be a shut-down of the website.

A screenshot posted on the Canadian version of Backpage contained what appears to be a notice from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized,” the headline of the notice read.

The notice said the seizure was “part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.”

Phoenix FBI spokesman Glenn Milnor referred all other questions to the U.S. Department of Justice. A DOJ official told The Republic it would be releasing more information shortly.

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As of 1 p.m. MST, the notice was no longer present on the United States version of backpage.com, though an error message appeared after clicking into any one of the site’s various categories.

The message remained on the Canadian version of the website.

Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain and an outspoken advocate against human trafficking, said she had heard that federal law enforcement officials had raided not only Lacey’s home but every office of Backpage world-wide.

“They’ve confiscated everything and shut the website down,” she said.

McCain called it a “good day” in the fight against human trafficking.

An e-mail sent to Liz McDougall, an attorney for Backpage, was returned as undeliverable. Her e-mail contains a backpage.com domain.

Backpage started as the literal back page of the New Times, filled with classified ads.

Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey
Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey (Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic)

Lacey and Jim Larkin, former New Times executives who sold off the newspaper chain in 2012, retained the lucrative interest in the Backpage website.

The site became dominated by adult-oriented advertising that police, prosecutors and advocates said were thinly-veiled solicitations for prostitution. The adult ads were among the few the website charged users to post.

Advocates and prosecutors have alleged that Backpage was used to sell underage girls and that women sold through the ads were coerced into acts of prostitution, elevating the crime from prostitution to the federal crime of sex trafficking.

A U.S. Senate report released in January 2017 contained internal emails from the company that showed its operators edited ads and created a list of disallowed terms that seemed indicative of prostitution. The Senate report concluded that such actions showed Backpage knew its website was used to facilitate prostitution.

Backpage shut down its adult section the day the report was released, just as Lacey and Larkin appeared, under subpoena, to testify before the Senate committee. Both men refused to answer questions.

The ads that used to appear on the adult section of Backpage — with their racy photos — migrated to the singles section. In recent weeks, in response to a federal law that would have held websites accountable for knowingly facilitating human trafficking, the ads were only allowed to contain a phone number, photos and links to other websites.

Read More @ AZcentral.com

NOTE: Our friend Liz Crokin TWEETED about this development earlier today: