Eric Omuro, the operator of RedBook, has been sentenced to 13 months behind bars. RedBook or MyRedBook.com was a popular website that hosted ads for Bay Area sex workers, as well as forums where both clients and escorts can review each other. A lot of other websites (including Craigslist) also cater to prostitutes, but authorities targeted this particular one last year for an unknown reason, taking down the domain to be replaced by a notice from the FBI:
This domain name has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
This domain name is subject to both civil and criminal forfeiture. This seizure is based on probable cause to believe that this domain name was involved in money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution in violation of state and federal law.
Property, including domain names, involved in violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, is subject to civil and criminal forfeiture to the United States pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(1)(A) and Section 982(a)(1).
At the same time, Omuro was charged not only with the "intent to facilitate prostitution," but also with 24 counts of money laundering. Since he pleaded guilty in December, he's now forfeiting $1.28 million in cash on top of the 13-month sentence as part of his plea deal. According to Wired, he is the first website operator to be convicted of facilitating prostitution.
Prior to being shut down, RedBook allowed escorts to post ads (even ones with explicit photos and language) for free, which clients could browse for no charge. Those who wanted their postings more prominently featured had to pay for the placement, while clients could shell out an optional $13 per month fee to access detailed reviews by fellow johns. The website's demise lost Bay Area sex workers a lot of clients. But it did prompt some of them to get together and teach each other how to use Tor and encrypt text messages, Wired said, since the government presumably has their info now.
[Image credit: Getty/microgen]