The popular online dating site Backpage, which is run by convicted sex offender Carl Gustavo Hernández, has been embroiled in an investigation by the US government into whether its operators had exploited people for sex and sold them back pages.
The company has been criticised for its advertising practices, with some users accusing it of using ads to lure customers into compromising situations.
The New York Times has published a lengthy article detailing the allegations.
The Times reported that the company had been selling backpage.org for $600,000 (£470,000) a piece in 2007.
It described how the service allowed users to buy virtual items on Backroom, the site that was a subsidiary of Backpage’s parent company, Incite.com, which sold the backpages.org and the sex ads that were made available on it.
“Backpage.net was created by the founders of Incite, Inc.com to provide the most competitive marketplace in the world for advertising.
The site has since grown into the largest sex and pornography marketplace in history,” it reported.”
Its founders had no desire to sell the business and the business was sold for a mere $500,000 in 2007.”
The article also reported that in 2008, Backpage purchased a controlling stake in a Canadian adult video service that was then run by its then-founder and current CEO Carl Gustavus Hernán, who is also on trial in California.
Hernán was sentenced to 10 years in prison for running the service.