Two young women, identifying themselves only as “AK and MC,” recently placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post saying they were repeatedly sold and bought through ads on Craigslist, and asking the site to shut down its adult services section.
Writes MC, who claims she was first forced into becoming a prostitute at 11 years old:
All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, pasting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock – and on one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car… Craig we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out … and the men who arrange them very rich.
And AK says she ended up a prostitute after meeting an older man who pretended to be romantically interested in her:
He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life… Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times.
AK also claimed to be aware of more than 20 other girls who were “taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site.”
In his response, posted on the official Craigslist blog, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster says he wants to help get justice for the two young women:
Hearing your accounts of being victimized by criminals who you mention also misused our site, we are anxious to know that the perpetrators are behind bars. Would you or the advocacy groups who placed the ads please let us know where the police reports were filed? We have been unable thus far to identify police reports matching the crimes you describe. If craigslist was misused, we want to learn more so we can improve our preventative measures. If anyone committing such crimes has not yet been apprehended and prosecuted, we want to do everything in our power to assist the police in making that happen.
According to Buckmaster, “criminal misuse of the site is quite rare.” He also lists the various measures the site takes, including “manually reviewing every adult service ad prior to posting” and “requiring phone verification for every adult service ad,” as signs that the site is dedicated to curbing the problem.
On his personal blog, Craigslist’s founder Craig Newmark asked users for their help in stopping crime on the site:
If you know or suspect that any such crime is happening on craigslist:
— send the links to the cops immediately!
— ask the cops to contact us
— send us the links!
If you know of any such crime in the past:
— send us the police reports
— send us anything other hard evidence
While the ad would not disclose specifics about either of the women involved, Fair Fund, the advocacy group that helped pay for the ad, says it had checked the women’s stories out and could vouch for them. Additionally, Fair Fund says AK had met the U.S. Attorney General.
Response to AK and MC Ads [craigslist blog]
craigslist needs help getting evidence re human trafficking [cnewmark.com]