Corporate Obfuscation, Criminal Deception & Tony Ortega’s Lies

Tony Ortega

We have seen how Backpage, despite a full awareness that they were breaking state and federal laws by engaging in for-profit human sex trafficking, attempted to deceive both the public and federal authorities.

Evidence of this knowledge is in no short supply as the criminals behind the Backpage scam were sloppy when it came to covering up their tracks. Meanwhile, Tony Ortega was working furiously behind the scenes to muddy the waters with his public facing propaganda.

Even as Tony Ortega was claiming Backpage was merely a place for ‘two consenting adults to find each other’, Carl Ferrer was being forwarded a legal notice claiming that several of Backpage’s ads included copyrighted content from two competing websites called RubMaps.com and EroticMP.com.

Carl Ferrer also received copies of the underlying ads from the competing websites, which clearly involved prostitution. In one of the ads, a customer stated that, in return for $45 and a $5 tip, he had received a “Blow Job w/ condom” from a woman who “had nice breasts.”

In a different ad, a customer stated that, in return for $60, he had oral and vaginal sex with a prostitute. And in a different ad, a customer stated: “Her bj was slow and erotic, and she was happy to go with whatever position wanted.” When Carl Ferrer forwarded these materials to Backpage’s staff, he was asked whether the corresponding ads appearing on Backpage’s website should be removed immediately. Carl Ferrar replied that they should be allowed to remain on Backpage for another few weeks without any modification.

That doesn’t quite sound like the benign dating service Tony Ortega was making it out to be, does it?

Then on March 15, 2012, Dan Hyer received an email concerning the ads with the copyrighted material. This email stated that the ads shouldn’t be deleted and that Backpage’s technical staff should merely “strip out” the names of the competing prostitution websites: “Copyright infringement issue. We need to strip out every appearance of rubmaps.com and eroticmp.com.

 When a staff member sought more guidance, Hyer interjected: “We don’t need to delete ads or users.”  Only a couple weeks later Andrew Padilla was informed that a woman had contacted Backpage to report that one of the “escorts” depicted on the site was only 17 years old. The woman provided the juvenile’s full name and birth year and further stated that the juvenile had been attempting to recruit the complaining party’s daughter (who was 15). In response, Padilla instructed his staff to refuse to remove the ad because “she’s isn’t claiming her own daughter is in the ad.

Not only were Backpage working to obscure the fact that they were profiting from illegal prostitution, they were attempting to get away with the even worse crime of profiting from the sale of children for sex.

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