Prostitution Websites Closed Down; 2 Arrested
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal indictment accuses a Silicon Valley couple of making millions of dollars from two "escort" websites to facilitate prostitution, complete with "customer reviews of the prostitutes' services."
Eric Omuro, 53, of Mountain View, and Annemarie Lanoce, 40, of Rocklin, were arrested Wednesday and charged with running sfredbook.com and myRedBook.com to facilitate prostitution in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.
CBS News described Omuro as a Silicon Valley "entrepreneur" and Lanoce as his girlfriend.
Both websites were shut down by the FBI and were replaced with the following notice: "This domain name has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (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."
Although myRedbook.com purported to provide "Escort, Massage, and Strip Club Reviews," it actually was used "to host 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 Department of Justice said in a statement.
The website used acronyms for various sex acts that were defined in detail under the "Terms and Acronyms" section, according to the Justice Department.
"Although the websites could be accessed for free, myRedBook.com advertised fees for premier placement of prostitution advertisements and for 'VIP Memberships,' which purportedly allowed customers access to 'private forums' and heightened capabilities to search reviews of the prostitution services," the Justice Department said.
Omuro is also accused of using multiple aliases to transfer revenue from myredbook.com into his bank accounts. The indictment alleges 24 counts of money-laundering in connection to these transfers, which ranged from $90,000 to $275,000.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $5.4 million derived from the facilitation of prostitution, including the money in the bank accounts, a 2011 BMW and a 2012 Mini Cooper.
Omuro and Lanoce appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Francisco on Wednesday. Omuro was released on $500,000 bail. He is expected in court for entry of a plea at 9:30 a.m. Friday, according to CBS.