Bay Area Sex Listings Website Shut Down, Alleged Owners Indicted

June 25, 2014 17:45 pm · 19 comments


Two Bay Area-based websites were shut down by the FBI and the IRS today and the sites’ two alleged proprietors appeared in federal court accused of facilitating prostitution and money laundering, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney.

The sites and advertised free listings for services ranging from massage parlors, strippers, dominatrixes and escorts throughout the western U.S.

But U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office argued in a nine-page indictment released this afternoon that the sites were used primarily for advertising prostitution in violation of state law.

The site’s two alleged proprietors — identified as 53-year-old Eric “Red” Omuro of Mountain View and 40-year-old Annemarie Lanoce of Rocklin — are accused of facilitating prostitution using interstate communication and laundering more than $5 million in revenue from the sites since 2010, according to Haag’s office.

The site would charge fees for premier placement of ads and for “VIP Membership” to access special services on the site such as private forums and better search features, according to Haag’s office.

Omuro is accused of using numerous aliases to move funds from the site into his control. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in assets including bank accounts at four different banks, investments, a BMW and a Mini Cooper.

The FBI conducted several raids this morning connected to the case, according to FBI spokesman Peter Lee. One of the locations was the 200 block of Houghton Street in Mountain View, an address apparently associated with Omuro.

The two made an initial appearance in the federal courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Francisco this afternoon, U.S. Attorney’s spokeswoman Lillian ArauzHaase said.

Omuro was released on $500,000 bail and is due back in Judge Cousins’ court for identification of defense attorney and entry of a plea at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

A status conference is scheduled for July 10 before U.S. District Judge William Orrick, the trial judge assigned to the case.

Bay Area sex worker advocates expressed concern today that the seizure could affect sex workers’ livelihood and safety — including those doing legal work.

Oakland-based sex worker rights advocate Sabrina Morgan said that MyRedBook helped sex workers to screen and protect themselves from potentially violent clients and that its absence could put already vulnerable women in danger.

She said that in addition to providing listings, MyRedBook enabled sex workers to talk to clients before meeting them and to talk to other sex workers about potential clients for referrals.

The site contained both a public forum and a private forum just for workers.

“Clients on the site would need references,” and a good reference from another worker was an indication that a particular client was safe to see, she said.

“Taking the site offline means that type of networking and resource sharing is pushed further underground,” Morgan said.

While other websites offer similar services, there is nothing remaining like MyRedBook, Morgan said, as others charge a fee to create listings and operate on a national scale.

Kristina Dolgin, a spokeswoman with the Bay Area chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project, said that the loss of MyRedBook as a free resource for sex workers could put an already marginalized community further at risk.

“They’re going to have less safe interactions and be put into situations where they can be put at risk of violence,” Dolgin said. “To those who can’t afford switching to another website, this is completely detrimental.”

Some members of the Sex Worker Outreach Project are consulting with attorneys out of concern that the FBI’s targeting of MyRedBook could lead to charges filed against them.

Dolgin said the FBI might have gained IP addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other personal details of Bay Area sex workers. “It’s a very scary thing,” she said.

The site has previously been used as a law enforcement resource for investigators targeting pimps and human traffickers. Officers have posed as clients or offering services in order to arrange meetings and make arrests.

scooter June 25, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Damn! Where am I supposed to go now for my dominatrix needs?? Doesn’t the FBI have more important things to do? Jeesh! If anyone has suggestions on where I can find a good Dominatrix at a moments notice, please list your suggestions.

Always Right June 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM

About time.

Law enforcement should be able to move faster than this. How many YEARS has this operation been running?

TinFoiler June 25, 2014 at 7:21 PM

That’s right, all of you ADULTS – No fun without a contract!
Sign your life away through marriage.

sarah t June 25, 2014 at 7:34 PM

*Confused* I seriously thought all prostitution was illegal in our area. Bay Area sex workers advocates? If its illegal then you have no right to do it. What am I missing here?

TinFoiler June 25, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Ha ha sarah t – illegal like using non hands free cell phone while driving or like people crossing the border for welfare?
I’ve never paid for getting busy & I don’t need to, but before everyone jumps on their sanctimonious horse – Don’t forget about the DC MADAM – Who exactly was She providing services for???

Jojo potato June 25, 2014 at 9:16 PM

@scooter. is loaded with east bay listings. Enjoy!

Why can't 2 consenting adults get together for sex, even if money IS involved? June 25, 2014 at 9:48 PM

You folks need to examine your thinking about such matters. Other countries are much more open to sex than those in this country who are so up-tight. Men with frigid wives might want to play a bit, without fear of being arrested; men in sexless relationships would have a place to find enjoyment; and yes, even women sometimes pursue sex outside their established relationship.

anon June 25, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Sarah T- If you believe, as you imply, that all rights come from government rules, then you have no rights at all, just permissions.

You seem to hold that just because there is a law against something, that one does not have the right to advocate for that thing. I suppose you also felt that it was wrong for people to advocate for the overturning of Jim Crow laws and civil rights for black people. After all, it was illegal for them to sit at lunch counters or certain areas of the bus, so they had no right to do so, and advocates for change were aiding and abetting criminals!

Schmee June 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM

I’m completely for prostitution. However anyone who gets a couple million dollars and buys a Mini Cooper deserves to be locked up.

Barbie Dahl June 25, 2014 at 11:17 PM

I wonder if Doc Jellyfinger knew about this. It could have helped him shorten his sex drive.

Silva June 26, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Barbie Dahl,.. oh nevermind.

sarah t June 26, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Yeah your very right, I often dont swim upstream as often as I should. If people dont fight then things will never change. I am always learning.

Barbie Dahl June 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

He usually drives all the way to Sparks, Nevada.

Chuckie's Wife June 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

It’s about time. Two down. But how many more to go? Craig’s List is back up with their smut.

The sad truth is, that a lot of underage boys and girls are being pimped through these sites. These kids are victims of sexual, physical and verbal abuse. The more sites are shut down, the better. I rejoice with every successful sting that rescues these children.

As for adults – if they’re truly consenting (which often one party is not), then it’s none of my business.

WC June 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Chuckie’s Wife #14

So how many ads exist for the underage boys and girls…. based on your research… 🙂

David June 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Is there any coincidence this announcement comes immediately following a large sting operation with the rescuing of numerous underage prostitutes?

While this is a drop in the ocean in terms of the effect it will have at least its something.

Hopefully the media decides this is the next big money making story that the public wants to latch on to and it motivates some major changes.

Runkle June 26, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Legalize, regulate and tax it. We need the money for better schools, education and jobs. It will still continue no matter what the gov’t does. If regulated, hopefully all the pimps and exploited ones would be non-existent.
Just like MJ, I do not partake but what is between consenting adults is private.

Joe Citizen June 27, 2014 at 12:09 AM

Just legalize it, regulate it and tax it. Deficit fixed. And lets be honest it’ll never be stopped its been going on for a hundred thousand years or more. Doesn’t the FBI have other more important things to take care of than this? How about investigating the lost irs emails or Benghazi? Another example of our tax dollars being wasted.

random dude June 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Waste of time and money. Legalize this before making any drugs legal. This is the worlds oldest profession. Seems very communist to have your site come under suspicion, shut down, your arrested and your income cut off before you can even step foot in court?? What if your proven innocent and the outcome is that the government dismantled your career and left you broke and in debt….doesn’t sound like everyone’s rights are being considered here.
PS – I don’t support underage abuse of children in anyway, but I just don’t like what I see with the FBI tactics. Surely there are better uses for their time.

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