New Trick of the Sex Trade: Pimps Can Use Retail Gift Cards to Buy Ads on Dallas-based Backpage.com

For many of us, gift cards are presents for hard-to-please family members who want to pick out their own gadgets at Best Buy.For pimps and prostitutes, gift cards have become a currency to pay for sex ads on Backpage.com, anti-prostitution activists say.Dallas-based Backpage, a classified-ad site similar to Craigslist, is the leading online marketplace for sex, according to government investigators and federal prosecutors who have been struggling for years to shut it down. The U.S. Justice Department says more than half of sex-trafficking victims are under 18.Credit card companies stopped doing business with the website two years ago. People could still buy Backpage ads, but it became more difficult: They had to mail in checks or use complicated digital currencies like bitcoin.But now, Backpage has begun accepting gift cards from major retailers, The Dallas Morning News has confirmed. That means a pimp could walk into any local grocery store and pick up a convenient and untraceable way to pay the site to post ads selling women, critics say.  Continue reading...

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