Tony Ortega & The Peril of Warning Signs

This week we have been looking at the staggering number of recent convictions surrounding women and young girls who have been trafficked for the explicit purpose of being sold for sex.

Backpage profited off of its scheme to sell pimps advertising to the tune of more than half a billion dollars during its years of operation. Indeed, it is hard to overstate just how vile and destructive Backpage has been to the lives of the women and girls it fed off for so long. The list of Backpage victims does not end here however. There were victims even among those who took advantage of Backpage’s services.

Tony Ortega has been fond of bragging that Backpage was a place for consenting adults to meet. We’ve have been taking an in depth look at the myriad ways in which the platform was used for anything but helping ‘consenting adults meet’. It’s important to point out that even when Backpage was used in the way the Tony Ortega so enthusiastically endorsed, it was rife with predatory crime.

This week we learned of strange story of an Illinois executive who found himself the victim of a scam perpetrated by an escort he met on Backpage after she got ahold of his corporate credit card and scammed his company out of an estimated $5.8 million.

The victim, Scott Kennedy, said this week in a Federal Courthouse in Chicago that his former escort girlfriend Crystal Lundberg spent some of the funds on multiple lavish trips abroad to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Santorini, France, Bali, Bora Bora and Fiji, $60,000 on two Rolex watches and a whopping $24,000 on moving her potted plants from Illinois to California.

Kennedy said he hired her as an escort on numerous occasions after the two met on Backpage.com. By August 2015 she had moved into his two-bedroom home with her daughters and pets.

‘I trusted her’, Kennedy told a jury. ‘I ignored the warning signs.’

As Kennedy awaits the final verdict for his part in this shady affair, he faces the very real prospect of spending a good many years in jail.

While it’s difficult to feel too much in the way of sympathy for a john who trusted a prostitute it turned out was using him all along for his money, the comparison to Tony Ortega’s readers and Backpage is simply too apt to let pass unremarked upon.

Tony Ortega fooled more than a few people with his glowing praise and outraged defenses of his former employers at Backpage. Many fell victim to his lies and that may be a major reason why the Backpage sex ring was allowed to continue for so long before being challenged.

The cost for falling for Ortega’s lies was, as it continues to be, too great to ignore the warning signs.

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