A Phoenix news station reports a bizarre incident involving a $US500,000 ($640,793) check mistakenly deposited into the bank account of a recent law school graduate.
The deposit was made in the name of Michael Lacey – the name of the co-founder of Backpage, whom the FBI recently accused of money laundering and facilitating prostitution.
Parker Fox, the recent graduate, reportedly checked his bank account this week and discovered the half-million dollars.
Fox told Phoenix’s CBS 5 News that he ruminated on the small fortune for a few hours over drinks with friends before contacting the bank the next day and reporting the clerical error. “You see an additional half-million dollars in your account, your imagination runs wild,” he said.
According to CBS 5, the deposit slip listed “Michael Lacey” as the account holder, but it had Fox’s account number written on it by hand. The check was reportedly deposited at Republic Bank of Arizona, a small community bank.
Backpage’s Lacey lives near Sedona, Arizona, which is a two-hour drive north of Phoenix. The FBI raided his home there earlier this month.
The deposit is likely to draw the attention of the feds, as Lacey’s charges include alleged money-laundering crimes. A former US attorney for the District of Arizona speculated to CBS 5, however, that the funds may be for Lacey’s legal defence.
“If you’re trying to do something unlawful, such as laundering money, you don’t deposit money in your own name,” Mel McDonald, the former US attorney, said.
Lacey was released from custody on Friday after posting a $US1 million bond.
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty last week to money-laundering charges, facilitating prostitution, and conspiracy; he faces up to five years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Backpage will remain permanently closed.
Backpage.com was seized by the FBI on April 6. Seven associates have been accused of making millions by facilitating sex-trafficking and prostitution.