US Department of Justice Accuses Backpage of Laundering Millions in Cryptocurrency

US Department of Justice Accuses Backpage of Laundering Millions in Cryptocurrency

The classified listings website Backpage.com was seized Friday, April 6 on charges that they laundered half a billion dollars in illegal revenue via cryptocurrency. This was announced Monday, April 9.

The website obtained 893 federal indictments through the FBI who alleges Backpage earned over $500 million in prostitution related revenue since it started. Chief John D. Fort from the IRS criminal investigation team labeled the defendants “masterminds”.

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Backpage users committed financial crimes like money laundering at the expense of women and children utilizing cryptocurrency and the anonymity of the internet.

The indictment explains how defendants converted their customer payments into cryptocurrency in order to conceal the misconduct and evade law enforcement. This indictment also involves the sex workers who use the online resource as well.

Visa and MasterCard stopped  processing transactions from Backpage back in 2015. The companies stated that they had moral, social, and legal reasons for the stoppage. One Backpage escort proclaimed that Bitcoin became one of the only few payment methods they could use in order to “stay safe and successful” within the online industry.

Other international law enforcement authorities are working to set a precedence for cases like this in which cryptocurrency is exploited in order to conceal layers of corruption. According to Europol, up to $5.5 billion has been laundered through cryptocurrency annually.

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