As you should know, sex trafficking website Backpage was seized by the federal government in 2018. Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are still awaiting trial.
Apparently, that hasn’t stopped some from trying to claim Backpage’s trafficking crown. For example, 46-year-old Wilhan Martono has been indicted in federal court after he allegedly made $21M from a series of websites that filled some of the void left by Backpage. And much like Backpage, Martono has been accused of not only money laundering but also allegedly allowing minors to be trafficked on his websites. This includes a 13-year-old Texas girl who was rescued from being prostituted late last year.
In order to get around credit card restrictions that were placed on Backpage, customers to Martono’s sites were asked to pay for ads in either Bitcoin or gift cards. Both are used as currency among scammers and criminals to try to hide any money trails from law enforcement.
Sadly, Martono is only looking at 25 years behind bars.
Martono is said to have registered many of the domains for his website the day after the feds seized Backpage.
The 13-year-old Texas girl who was trafficked on one of Martono’s websites told police that her traffickers threatened to kill her if she ever spoke to police. She had been locked in an Irving, Texas motel room where she was repeatedly raped while her traffickers made money.
I’ll be posting more updates as this story progresses.
Bay Area man made $21 million operating international sex trafficking websites that included child victims, feds say
Feds take down sites that replaced prostitution and child sex trafficking portal Backpage.com
Prostitution, Sex Trafficking Website That Took Over For Backpage Shut Down; Owner Indicted
Feds rescue a 13-year-old girl from sex trafficker and take down online successor to Dallas’ notorious Backpage site