The acknowledgements of wrongdoing came shortly after Ferrer pleaded guilty on Thursday to a state money laundering charges in California and the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Texas.
Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. "Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking", he added.
SESTA aims to halt sex trafficking, particularly of children, by restricting what kind of information can be posted on websites like Backpage, where people often advertise sexual services.
"Backpage has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking, placing profits over the well-being and safety of the many thousands of women and children who were victimized by its practices", said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. odd. He said the website facilitated sex trafficking in 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages.
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking in three states.
Although he has agreed to testify against other executives at Backpage, the California plea agreement indicates that Ferrer will face up to five years in prison; sentences handed down in Arizona and Texas would run along the same time period.
Ferrer has agreed to cooperate in the criminal case against Backpage co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin.
Ferrer's cooperation could lead to criminal charges against others involved with the company. In 2015, the indictment said, credit card companies stopped processing payments for Backpage.com and closed the site's bank accounts out of "concern they were being used for illegal purposes".
The U.S. Senate also recently approved the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which would remove a legal loophole that shields websites that knowingly take part in human sex trafficking from legal liability.
The company founders were among company officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona, while Ferrer, 57, was noticeably absent from the indictment.
In his admission statement, Ferrer admitted that he conspired with other Backpage officials to facilitate prostitution crimes being committed by users of the site.
In the Arizona plea, Ferrer acknowledged knowing that a great majority of Backpage.com's ads were for sex services. Larkin has since been ordered to temporarily remain in custody until a continued detention hearing on Monday, April 16, and Spear and Brunst were released from custody pending trial. Magistrate Judge Bridget Bade said Thursday that attorneys have agreed on the terms of release, but other details must be ironed out.