San Francisco Escort Site Myredbook.com Seized by Feds

The site has been at the center of controversy for years for allegedly facilitating prostitution of adults and minors.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The San Francisco-based escort site Myredbook.com was seized by federal agents Wednesday as a result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the IRS. Damian Trujillo reports. (Published Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014)

    A San Francisco-based escort site has been seized by federal agents as a result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the IRS.

    Myredbook.com has been at the center of controversy for years for allegedly facilitating prostitution of adults and minors.

    Visitors to the site on Wednesday were being directed to a message informing them of the seizure. The message said the site's 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," the message said.

    Federal agents raided a house in Mountain View Wednesday that reportedly belongs to Eric Omuro, operator of Armstrong Computer Services, the apparent parent company of Myredbook.com.

    Law enforcement officials could be seen removing boxes and other evidence from the house as neighbors stood by watching, shocked by the allegations.

    Federal agents arrested Omuro, also known as "Red," and Annemarie Lanoce, 40, of Rocklin, California, Wednesday following their indictment by a federal grand jury on charges involving the use of the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution and multiple counts of money laundering, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    Wednesday morning, the FBI seized control of the myredbook.com domain as well as sfredbook.com, both allegedly operated by Omuro and Lanoce.

    According to information on the website prior to the seizure, Myredbook.com claimed to provide "escort, massage and strip club reviews." In reality, federal officials said, the site hosted advertisements for prostitutes, "complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes' services."

    The website also used acronyms for various sex acts, which were described in graphic detail on its "Terms and Acronyms" section, officials said. The website charged fees for premier placement of ads and "VIP memberships," which gave customers access to "private forums" and comprehensive reviews.

    According to the indictment, Omuro engaged in more than 20 money transfers to launder the profits made through prostitution. The indictment is seeking to forfeit more than $5 million in property and money derived from prostitution as well as the domain names.

    CNN reported Wednesday that the website's seizure was related to a broader crackdown on sex trafficking of minors. The national crackdown resulted in the rescue of 168 children and 281 arrests of alleged pimps this month.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Myredbook's apparent Twitter feed appears to be still active, with the latest tweet going out at 2:31 p.m.

     

    NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo contributed to this report.