Escort review sites can be accidental vice informants

Although escorts may feel that escort review sites have revolutionized the business and allowed them to obtain new clients through online referrals, the reality could be that such sites may be providing more and more opportunities to be busted for prostitution. Because law enforcement departments are growing technologically and catching up with the rest of the world, vice officers are learning about review sites and how to research their members.

In an interview in 2006, the then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stated that “Vice doesn’t have to look for you. The escort ads and escort review sites give police all the information they need to find and bust you.”

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department in Tampa pioneered the efforts to track down escorts and their clients using escort review sites in their attempt to shut down one such site. “Operation Flea Collar” was implemented in 2002, but it failed to shut the sites down, which was its initial purpose. However, at the same time, the police learned to become members of that community and perusing the many forums available on the site. Much useful (read “incriminating”) information can be obtained through the reviews.

Officers can log into sites and become VIP members in order to get the full scoop on escorts and their clients. They may use the information they access to book appointments with highly-rated escorts and then bust them for prostitution during the encounters.

David Elms said in an interview with MSNBC in 2006, that he was aware that police officers registered on his site posing as hobbyists. However, he stated that it doesn’t happen nearly as often as many escorts and clients believe. His site, started in 1999, is well known and accounts for many referrals and bookings for a significant number of escorts each month; the site generates between 500,000 and 1 million unique visitor hits per month.

Elms went on to say in the interview that sometimes law enforcement officials may use the information they gain on his site to start an investigation, and it’s illegal for him to warn the community. (It’s a felony to impede an investigation.) However, Elms commented that the forum community usually catches wind of anything suspicious and spreads the word faster than he or his techs would be able to, anyways.

So, this leaves an escort to question whether or not involvement with escort review sites is a positive, helpful thing for his or her career. And, as long as clients are discreet, there is no reason that a review site should be avoided. However, when clients get mouthy or attempt to share too many details, trouble could brew.

For instance, a client who discloses the most intimate details of your encounter with him to the forum could create trouble for you. If he reveals your personal address, your real name or the details of the services you provided, the police could turn up knocking on your door asking some pretty serious questions. Additionally, clients should beware of disclosing too much information about themselves, too. By revealing their personal information, they may become the subject of investigations, which eventually could cause them to reveal your identity, too.

There is a way that you can combat too much personal information being released on forums and review sites. Most of these sites have contact information that you can use to flag or appeal a post that contains too much information, is defamation or constitutes slander. Use it to remove information that shouldn’t be up about you or your client.

After attempting to make contact you do not hear back from tech assistance within 48 hours, the site isn’t one that your clients should be posting to. (Which doesn’t help you much after the fact!) But, from here on out, caution your clients from posting to this particular site that doesn’t take heed to protect its members.

Remember that although you are not doing anything illegal by charging clients fees to spend time with you, those who protect the status quo and serve the highest bidder are trained to find something illegal in whatever you do. Anytime that your activities are publicized online, you run a higher risk of attracting additional attention to yourself.

The Internet has definitely revolutionized the escort industry, but it can also be the end to your career if you’re not smart about it. Check posts made about you. Closely screen any client you book from a referral based on escort reviews online. Contact review site operators for assistance – they are supposed to be on your side. And, above all, always keep your guard up. The Internet is a very public domain, even though some parts of it seem deceptively private.