>>Sex Trafficking Website Dropped by Visa, MasterCard

Sex Trafficking Website Dropped by Visa, MasterCard

Sex TraffickingVisa and MasterCard have agreed to cut ties with sex trafficking websites. Their cards can no longer be used to purchase ads from such sites. The decision came after Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart wrote to both Visa and MasterCard urging them to stop doing business with Backpage.com – a website that is often used for sex trafficking and prostitution. According to Dart, the site generates more than $100 million in revenue on a yearly basis just from adult ads.

Dart said that this site is being used by these individuals to victimize women and girls across the globe. Countless lives have been destroyed by these sites. “It is going to be increasingly harder for those dealings to occur again,” Dart cautioned. In other words, it will be now quite difficult for those sites to place adult related ads.

Backpage.com charges customers a small fee to place adult-related ads. Such ads normally cost anywhere from $5 – $7 and helps the website to generate nearly $9 million in revenue every month. Darts said that 1.4 million adult ads were placed in April alone. For now, it is definitely going to be difficult for these sites to posts such ads for sex. This is because a client will need to pay the small fee via Visa, MasterCard or Bitcoin.

Backpage.com deals with millions of advertisements in different categories, including real estate, dating, jobs, automotive, dating and more. However, over the past few years, the controversial website has allegedly outshined Craigslist as a hub for both prostitution and human trafficking.

Earlier, Cook County Sheriff’s officers have made at least 800 arrests related to the site, including more than 50 arrests for prostitution, involuntary slavery promotion, and sex trafficking.

Federal laws usually protects web owners from being legally responsible for what is posted on their sites. Prosecuting such web operators is often seen as a threat to freedom of speech. Even so, that has not deterred lawmakers from condemning the sites and making new laws that seek to hold them accountable. Senator Mark Kirk and Cook County prosecutors have agreed to announce a new legislation that allow criminal charges against operators who sell ads on their sites, including, prostitution, pimping and kidnapping.

In 2009, Dart also filed a lawsuit against Craigslist alleging that the site promoted prostitution with its “erotic services” section. Sheriff Dart said that his office had expended 3,120 man hours in 2008 just to deal with prostitution from Craigslist. “Online prostitution wouldn’t be such a problem if not for Craigslist” the Sheriff said.

Two months later Craigslist agreed to remove erotic services. It was then replaced by adult services but Dart was not satisfied. He said the term “erotic services” and “adult services” are one and the same – they make no difference. Dart unfortunately lost the case as the judge allowed Craigslist to use “adult services” instead of “erotic services”.

MasterCard representatives told several media outlets recently that the company has set stricter rules against using their service for illegal activities. Several media outlets also managed to reach Visa, and Visa echoed almost the same sentiments. They said that their company has a long history of working with authorities to protect the integrity of their payment system. American Express, on the other hand, has already banned Backpage.com and other similar sites from using their cards. Bitcoin is now the only payment service that is still associated with Backpage.com. Moreover, Jeffery Cramer – a former federal prosecutor – commended Officer Thomas Dart for his actions.

In his last statement, Dart insisted that the war against sex trafficking is far from over. It is just the beginning. But this will definitely give criminals a harder time.