Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is Craigslist responsible for missing Megan Waterman, 22 ?

By Cynthia Caron

Megan Waterman, 22, a young mother from Scarborough, Maine went missing in Hauppauge, NY following advertisements on Craigslist for escort services.

As the President and Founder of the Non-Profit organization that is working with the family of Megan Waterman, I would like to respond to the media comments stated by James Buckmaster, Craigslist’s chief executive when asked about their role in trafficking and prostitution advertisements on their site.

In Mr. Buckmaster's own words he stated "We will continue to work tirelessly, in tandem with law enforcement and key nonprofits, to ensure that any victims receive the assistance they desperately need and deserve, and that those responsible are imprisoned." So I ask, why has Mr. Buckmaster not responded to any of our requests to offer a reward for the safe return of Ms. Waterman? Why are they still enabling ads in their personal sections that are clearly for prostitution?

Craigslist states they are striving to keep a "clean site" and they've been scrutinizing their ads. If that is the case, how did Megan Waterman's escort "services" slip past Mr. Buckmaster's radar? Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky stated it well when she said “The sex trade does not just happen in far off countries — it’s a very real domestic problem that has been boosted by Craigslist, which appears to be the go-to marketplace, particularly for the sale of young women and girls,” Schakowsky said.

I would like Mr. Buckmaster to explain to me how a young single mother of 22 years of age, who worked two jobs to raise her toddler daughter, was able to become accessible from the State of Maine to "johns" in the State of NY had it not been for Craigslist? It should be known that Ms. Waterman was “chosen”, by active Craigslist users who are pimps, due to her na├»ve and vulnerable state. The man who portrayed himself as her “boyfriend”, Akeem Cruz, 20, drove from New York to Maine with the sole purpose to seek young women he could manipulate into the world of prostitution via his portal… Craigslist.

On June 06, 2010 at 1:30 am Megan left the hotel in Hauppauge, NY alone and has met an unknown terrible fate. Whether it be she was abducted and trafficked, or murdered, nobody knows. What we do know is whatever happened to Ms. Waterman was done by those who utilize Craigslist to catch their prey on the personal ad section. We know her family is devastated, grieving and her three year old daughter wants to know where is her mommy? Were not horrid crimes learned from the actions of Phillip Markoff , via Craigslist, in the death of Julissa Brisman, 25, enough?

How can Craigslist completely ignore the fact that the family has asked repeatedly for them to step up and halt all Craigslist personal services and to take responsibility towards their role of enabling such services that caused Megan Waterman to just disappear off the face of the earth by at least offering a reward for her safe return? In their own words they are willing to help those who have become victims due to Craigslist ads. So why have they not stepped up to the plate? According to the AIM Group, they’ve estimated Craigslist’s revenue will grow 22 percent in 2010, up from $100 million in 2009. More than half the company’s revenue comes from recruitment advertising, while 30 percent comes from “adult services” ads — thinly disguised advertising for prostitutes.

If a personal service was legitimate, those who run their services would have websites, advertisements and other means of marketing as any other reputable business. If Ebay can keep those from selling personal services, and maintain themselves as a 2.2 billion dollar company, there is no reason that Craigslist cannot do the same. It’s obvious that the success in the profits of the company, and CEO’s, is coming direct from enabling illegal activities through those personal service ads. It is in our opinion that Craigslist is indeed contributing to “sex for profit” by enabling a venue to exist that contributes and enables illegal prostitution which invariably as statistics show can lead to disease, drugs, abuse, victimization, missing loved ones, death and murder. 43 state prosecutors threatened Craigslist, and 17 State Attorney Generals have signed on to support possible legal action. Is all this worth it? How can Mr. Buckmaster and Mr. Newman sleep at night?

Update: On Friday, September 03, 2010, Craigslist announced it would "shut down" their adult services by instituting a "Censored" banner in place of their "Adult Services" section. Is this a permanent fix to halt these ads? Or is this just a means to pacify 17 Attorney Generals in the US who have collaborated to pursue legal action? Craigslist's Mr. Buckmaster and Mr. Newman have yet to make any statements to clarify what "Censored" really means.

Cynthia L. Caron
LostNMissing, Inc.
PH: 603.548.6548


  1. What an insightful article. You are absolutely spot on, Craigslist is clearly responsible for what happened to Megan and should bear the consequences. But please don't stop there, this war against enablers of crime should also be logically extended to the makers of the car driven by Mr. Cruz to Maine and back, to the bank that financed the purchase of the said car or to the credit card companies that allowed to him to rent the said car, to the gas companies providing fuel for the said car and to the state and federal governments for building those highways that allowed Megan's life to be put in jeopardy.

    I wish you all the very best in your valiant fight.

  2. I have used craigslist for years to sell things that I no longer needed or to buy things that I did need.
    I have never even looked at the adult services ads. The way I found out about those ads was through this recent hoopla.
    There are lots of dangerous activities in the world that you can find if you look for them.
    What I would like to know is why did a 22 year old mother of two children feel her only choice was to put herself in a potentially vulnerable position by placing or answering an adult escort ad. Was there a lack of support from her family?
    Where was her family when she got involved with her "pimp" boyfriend? What I do not understand is how people do not take responsibility for their choices.
    It's like people who blame alcohol for alcoholics. They blame cigarettes for smokers.
    Why was Megan looking into these options?
    Her choices were very risky.
    Where was her family?
    How can you blame craigslist?
    I honestly know only what I read here. I do think it's a tragedy and sincerely my heart goes out to the family.
    I do think that craigslist is not who you should blame. That's just too easy and not right.

  3. First, let me clarify that Ms. Waterman did not "respond" to an ad to become an escort. For those who are not aware, human trafficking is a big business. The "hunters" are trained. They are usually handsome young men who go out and seek vulnerable young women and "become" their boyfriend. They flatter them, they make promises to them of their "love" for them...once they have the girls under their "spell" they take advantage of their vulnerability and propose the "escorting" services. They are influenced by their "boyfriend" as an "easy way out" and that the "boyfriend" will be there every step of the way to ensure their safety. Normally they explain that it's not prostitution as they will be selling "escorting" or "massages."

    The boyfriend may even stay in the specified location, which is usually a decent hotel by hiding in the bathroom to keep them protected. Those who visit these girls are married men, doctors, lawyers, corporate businessmen. Those who have a lot of money and do not feel the risk of "picking a girl off the streets." It's a very elaborate and well funded and set up "business."

    In nearly all cases if the girls refuse they are threatened, beaten, drugged, killed or come up missing. Those who run these operations cannot risk having their "higher ups" divulged so the girl can even be drugged and moved to another location, another city, another state and is housed in a home in which one is continually drugged and used for sex with little or no chance for escape and more than likely killed when they are of "no use" or if they are "a problem."

    In the case of Megan, she has tremendous family support. From her mother, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles and including her grandparents who allowed her to move in with her daughter to help so that she could work two jobs due to high rent and trying to make it "on her own."

    Yes, Craigslist has a responsibility when they accepted money in order to allow advertisements for illegal sex to transpire. Absolutely they were aware and claimed they could not "watch" every ad to be banned. That is a smoke screen. Craigslist depended on the 36 million dollars it was receiving from those advertisements and didn't care what was posted.

    The car company that drove the "hunters" from NY to Maine did not accept money as part of this operation, nor did the fuel companies. The enabler was Craigslist. They should hold a personal responsibility, at the very least, to post a reward for information leading to Megan Waterman and permanently keep the "adult services" section closed.

  4. In response to "What I do not understand is how people do not take responsibility for their choices." I ask you. How is Megan to take responsibility for her choices when she has either been drugged and moved to another location or has been murdered? Where is her option to take responsibility for the mistake she made in allowing herself to be swooped off her feet by whom she thought was a boyfriend but was a pre-planned pimp? Because one may be 22 years old and an adult, does not mean that person is not vulnerable, immature or has emotional problems that make them an easy capture.

    The point is the law is the law. Sex for sale is illegal in nearly all states. Craigslist of enabling and allowing sex for sale in a publication and accepting money for such advertisements is what allowed these illegal operations to exist for a mere $10 posting. Of course they should be held responsible. Wouldn't you hold Ebay responsible if they allowed such postings in what is to be a family friendly tool to buy and sell used items? Would you hold Craigslist responsible if they allowed smoke screen ads to sell illegal handguns, or drugs? So why is it that a human body being sold, which is illegal, be ok to exempt them from responsibility? They were fully aware of what was going on and allowed it to transpire. Yes, Megan has a tremendous responsibility to "pay for her actions" and all we can do is hope that one day soon she will be located and will have no choice but to take responsibility, but the problem exists that she has disappeared off the face of this earth and not due to her own desire, as has hundreds of other young women. Sadly we will never know just how many of those missing have indirectly gone missing or murdered due to the ease of advertising on Craigslist. Adult services needs to be banned permanently and for those who do want to advertise need to do it in a state that has legalized such services and have criteria that adheres to the law in place for those who are placing the ads.

  5. True Megan Waterman advertised on Craig's List What isn't true is she met her boyfriend through there. She met him through another friend who had nothing to do with Craig's List. Lets wait until we find out if it was Craig's List or not responsible for her dissapearance we love her and she has a big part of our hearts with her her little girl misses mommy but we will not blame till we find out what happen please do not place blame because it is easy or convient

  6. Free Speech is obviously a competing issue. Censorship of the press and internet creates a slippery slope which can erode our Constitutional rights. You could just as easily feature an alcoholic lured to drink by the Bud Girls. Should we censor them as well? Craigslist is an open forum that cooperates with law enforcement subpoenas for IP addresses, etc. I would bet that this was how Mr. Cruz was located. Craigslist provides a great source of leads for law enforcement. There is crime and evil throughout our country. The competing freedoms we enjoy make this the greatest country on the earth--far superior to Marxist and Islamic regimes where there is far less crime, at the cost of personal freedoms.

  7. Megan Waterman met her boyfriend at a nightclub in Portland, Maine. Again, he and friends drove frequently from Bronx, New York to Portland, Maine to attend nightclubs. Craigslist is responsible for enabling adult "services" on their website in which they accepted fees in order for ads to be placed, knowing that many of those ads were to illicit for "adult services." We did not state they are responsible for her disappearance, they are responsible for enabling the ease of advertising for illegal sex services which they were fully aware was happening and did nothing to prevent such from occurring until the Phillip Markoff case. Even at that ads continued to be listed, including Megan's.

  8. Hawkins,

    Marching against censorship is foolish as it pertains to those who commit actions to advertise for sex, prostitution, child pornography, weapons, illegal handguns, murder-for-hire and drugs is clearly illegal and I am very confident that banning those types of services from being allowed to be promoted in any fashion, whether it be by newspaper or internet, does not interfere with ones constitutional rights. Illegal is illegal.

  9. Hawkins,

    Alcohol is legal. There is no comparison.

  10. After the capture of the "Craigslist Killer"-all the adult industry ads should have be monitored, removed and/or screened. One woman died, another was terroized and a young man is going to be convicted. The encounters where able to happen via Craigslist. It is possible the 'flag' ads on keep it from being posted, so why not flag them all....I am sure the police do monitor what they can on Craigslist, but the website is so large and vast that it would be impossible to catch and remove it is the Craigslist makers responsibility to do this....Change the format so that these ads can't be placed. TO SAVE LIVES

  11. Look... I think Megan is a sweet girl. I've known her for years and wish the very best for her. HOWEVER craiglist is not to blame. Megan is an adult. She CHOSE to prostitute herself on that website. She knew what she was doing. She isn't a stupid girl. She knew the dangers. If not CL, then it'd be a different website or the street corner.

  12. One problem I see with the logic is craigslist doesn't need the money from the adult listings. In fact, until about a year ago those ads were free like the rest of the site. It was law enforcement and threats of lawsuits that forced them to require credit cards to list in the adult section.

    Craigslist is an open forum, like a news paper. Newpapers cannot be reasonable and liable for each ad. eBay operates the same way, if they were forced to prove that all items sold on their site were legit, not boot-legs, not fake autographs, not stolen, etc. They would be out of business as well.

  13. Craigslist is still safer than standing on a street corner. Everything on the web is easy to trace. So if craigslist is used to commit a crime it can be tracked back to a PC and possibly a person. If someone is snatched off the street, without a witness, there is no place to start looking.

    Yes criminals will use the internet. You can't stop that. In my area, criminals were looking for big screen tv's for sale. Going to look at them and performing strong arm robberies, taking the tv and anything else they could find. Is craigslist liable for that crime?

    The advantage of the adult section, was it put those ads in one place making it easier for law enforcement and keeping people from running across them by accident. The girls will continue to post ads online, they will just be all over the place in other categories, like personals, etc.

    For the type of predators that this case refers to, those that pose as boyfriends to control young girls and become their pimp, personal ads and dating sites are probably used more than escort sites to find their victims.

  14. i feel that megan boyfriend knows what happen to her and he should be maked to tell where she is. Megan would not have done this if was not on durg,s that he must of put her on she loves her daugther so very much. so please if any of you know anything about what happen to Megan

  15. please let the right person know so we can get her home

  16. Anonymous- Regarding monitoring all ads. If Ebay can do could have Craigslist. It's a matter of how much staffing, time, and money one wants to put forth in monitoring and banning suspicious ads. Again, I am not saying Craigslist is responsible for Megan's disappearance, I am saying they bear a responsibility for enabling illegal activities to transpire that invariably caused her disappearance. They were certainly aware what was going on behind the ads and chose to continue the "service" even after all was exposed when Phillip Markoff chose his victims from those ads. I hope they are going to ban that section permanently. Nobody will know until they do their press release of which they haven't as yet.

    At the same time, the least they could do is step up to the plate and offer a reward for information leading to the information and the safe return of Megan Waterman.

  17. in my opinion i think that if anyone is able to take responsbility that is here it should be the parents maybe if Megan had some selfcofindence and selfworth she wouldn't of clung to the first guy that said something sweet to her she wouldnt of made the wrong decisions you learn what your taught so for the so devestated mother of megan where were you when she needed you and know that shes gone what are you really doing for her getting your 15 mins of fame because your daughters missing you didnt care when she was around so why start now!thanks for reading this is from her brother that has been with Megan sence my mother gave us up 22yrs ago Megan was a couple of months old so what do people think now if Megan was here she wouldnt want anyone but me and my family her bestfriend and neices and newphew
    i cant help how i fell but i know Megan and this is a fact!

  18. She took the AD its her fault for prostitution don't hook and get a job really this is like the dumbest I have ever read !!!

  19. i know megan and i do know she would not of gone on her own i do know she is a good person and mother she took very good care of her daugther and loves her dont anyone put her down lets just pray that she come home saft .

  20. It's just like us American's to always point the finger. Listen to you people, do you hear yourselves?? I young mother is missing, reguardless of mistakes, or the internet, shit happens. You should all focus on the good points, hold on to hope and stop laying the blame. I'm sure for the family that does care they are going through enough then to have to read through this crap.. Unless you have helpful or insightful information...SHUT UP!

  21. Wow... play the blame game after Megan is found!!!

  22. I am very sorry for Megan and her family. I sincerely hope she is found and can return to her child. However, blaming Craig's List is ridiculous. The owner's of Craig's List did not force Megan into prostituion. I hope other young women will make better choices and keep themselves safe by not exposing themselves to men who will prey on them. If you are in need of assistance for yourself or your child, seek out a community center, Church, etc. There are good people out there who will help you, but they will not be found answering "escort ads." God bless you, Megan, and bless your family -- may you be found safe.

  23. I send my prayers to Megan's Family, It is very hard to imagine Meghan's fate but to hope and pray for her safe return home. Her so called boyfriend Akeem Cruz was a drug dealer and psycho path who carried a gun and discharged the weapon more than once. He was a true piece of trash and clearly he knows what happened to that girl. He more than once put his hands on her and at a time in his life when his business was bad he may have even blamed her for his previous arrest and killed her himself he should not be ruled out

  24. While it *might* be possible to point a finger at Craigslist, Megan would most *definitely* still be alive if she didn't resort to selling herself as an escort.

    Perhaps if Megan's parents, friends or family been more alert to Megan's needs prior to her deciding to embark on a life of selling herself, she might still be alive.

  25. Some people just do not get how prostitution works. It's always been here and it will always have a market. If Craigslist didn't have any resources whatsoever available for someone to put up an advertisment (thinly veiled or otherwise) then those who want to advertise these services will do so somewhere else. The men wanting these services will discover where the ads are placed online and elsewhere. Law enforcement have been saying that by shutting down ads on Craigslist- "We're doing this in order to protect girls from getting forced into sex slavery..."
    Which is a load of crap.
    If that were true, by forcing Craigslist to no longer allow such ads to appear would be shooting themselves in the foot because they've now lost one popular resource they could've continued to utilize to CATCH the pimps and rescue girls who are forced into prostitution. Just because the marketing resource isn't available to them anymore- don't think for one minute that the activity has stopped. When there's a will, there's a way.
    And why single out Craigslist? What about the ads in the Yellow Pages of every phonebook in the country for DECADES under "Adult Entertainment" ? Do you really think that the strippers/dancers are only participating in legal activities? The same thing goes with any city's local weekly activity-type guides usually found in supermarkets and convenience stores, etc. that are free of charge. Look at the back few pages of one of those circulations and you'll see the same type of ads that were found on Craigslist (minus the nudity for the most part).
    I am heartbroken for Megan's family now that it has been proven that she was killed and I hope that justice is served for her as well as the other victims who were dumped in that area. There are some really sick and twisted people in this world.
    Craigslist, I'm sure is aware of the fact that ads are being placed for prostitution on their site, but they are not responsible for what happens when people choose to participate in risky behavior. And the absence of ads there will not result in a reduction of it happening. It will actually make it more difficult to keep track of if police, as they claim, ultimately are trying to do.

  26. Yes. Craigslist has the ability to annihilate prostitution.

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  28. You can't blame Craigslist. It isn't reasonable to do so. That would be like a john booking a prostitute via the site who turns out to be an undercover cop, then when he's arrested he pleads he isn't at fault, Craigslist is because they made the whole thing accessible to him. That's crazy. One thing this article leaves out is that we all have a little something called free will. We make our own decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions. Though I do feel horribly for the families of the missing girls and the girls themselves. It's a very tragic situation.


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