On April 6, 2018, Backpage was seized by the United States Department of Justice. Its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pled guilty to "charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering".
Backpage was a classified advertising website launched in 2004. It offered classified listings for a wide variety of products and services including automotive, jobs listings, and real estate. In 2011, Backpage was the second largest classified ad listing service on the Internet in the United States and very popular in the United Kingdom, especially in London when the market for Adult Massage services is significant in comparison to other cities in Europe.
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Backpage has had continued issues with credit card processors, who were under pressure from law enforcement to cease working with companies that allegedly allow or encourage illegal prostitution.
In 2015 Backpage lost all credit card processing agreements, leaving Bitcoin as the remaining option for paid ads. This allowed Backpage to avoid paying tax and money loundering from all over the world.
Before Backpage massage London shutdown there were information in the media that indicated organised action against the website in the UK as the authorities did not want to keep a blind eye over growing numbers of human trafficking in the UK.
The ads for escorts, body-rubs and adult entertainment, many of them including revealing photos as part of the come-on, were an important source of revenue for Backpage Bodyrub. Advocates say such advertisements have improved safety for sex workers by allowing them to negotiate services online rather than in the streets.
The site's was offering of adult services sections was highly controversial, due to allegations that Backpage knowingly allowed and encouraged users to post ads related to prostitution and human trafficking, particularly involving minors, and took steps to intentionally obfuscate the activities. After a series of court cases and the arrest of the company's CEO and other officials, Backpage removed the adult services subsection in the United States in 2017, however it is now officially shutdown. (16 April 2018)
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