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Ferrer, Lacey and Larkin are facing criminal charges in California for pimping and money laundering, though a court there threw out similar pimping charges last year.And among eight civil suits filed against Backpage this year is a wrongful-death action in Chicago by the mother of 16-year-old Desiree Robinson, who was slain in December after repeatedly being sold for sex on Backpage.Backpage argues it is a passive carrier of “third-party content” and has no control of sex-related ads posted by pimps, prostitutes and even organized trafficking rings.The company contends it removes clearly illegal ads and refers violators to the police.This is a traditional business model, but here the transaction too often is selling children for sex online.” In January, Backpage’s top officials appeared before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.Chief executive Carl Ferrer, co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin and general counsel Mc Dougall all invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves and declined to answer any questions.Then, when a potential customer expressed interest, an email directed that person to Backpage.com, where they would find authentic ads, spreadsheets used to track the process show.For years, Backpage executives have adamantly denied claims made by members of Congress, state attorneys general, law enforcement and sex-abuse victims that the site has facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking.
The workers posted the ads on competitors’ websites.
Workers in the Philippine call center scoured the Internet for newly listed sex ads, then contacted the people who posted them and offered a free ad on Backpage.com, the documents show.
The contractor’s workers even created each new ad so it could be activated with one click.
The documents show that Backpage hired a company in the Philippines to lure advertisers — and customers seeking sex — from sites run by its competitors.
The spreadsheets, emails, audio files and employee manuals were revealed in an unrelated legal dispute and provided to The Washington Post.