Classifieds Website Backpage Shut Down by Feds After Sex Trafficking Investigation

Site founder’s home raided by FBI on Friday morning

Popular classifieds site Backpage.com, best known as a hotspot for sex workers to coordinate meet-ups, was pulled down by the U.S. government on Friday afternoon.

A notice on the website’s homepage said the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and several other federal departments had seized the site. The notice added the DOJ would address the situation at around 6 p.m. ET.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for details.

Backpage founder Michael Lacy had his home raided by the FBI’s Phoenix branch earlier on Friday, according to 3TV/CBS 5.

This isn’t the first time Backpage has run into issues with the law. Lacy, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and former owner James Larkin had pimping charges dismissed in 2016. Several major credit cards stopped processing payments on Backpage in 2015, pointing to the site’s connection to sex trafficking. And in early 2017, Backpage shuttered its adults section — where sex worker routinely posted ads — while under pressure from the U.S. government.

Backpage’s seizure comes weeks after Congress passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which aims to crack down on online sex trafficking.