7 Employees of Largest Online Male Escort Service Charged with Promoting Prostitution
Since its launch 1997, Rentboy.com, a male escort advertising website, has grown into the largest online service of its kind, with the site reporting over $10 million in gross proceeds between 2010 and 2015.
In a criminal complaint unsealed this week in the Eastern District of New York, Rentboy.com’s CEO and six additional current and former employees were charged with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution.
The website earns money by hosting thousands of paid advertisements for escorts, who pay a minimum monthly fee of $59.95 up to $299.95 to advertise companionship opportunities. The site has disclaimers that the advertisements are not for sexual services. Yet, as alleged in the complaint, site subscribers can select from several categories created by Rentboy.com the sexual services they offer and prices charged. Subscribers can also include physical descriptions and provide links to other websites that contain ratings of their sexual services by prior customers.
“As alleged, Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” stated Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Acting United States Attorney Currie, who thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Field Office for their assistance in the investigation, announced the charges along with Acting Special Agent in Charge Glenn Sorge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York and Commissioner William Bratton, New York City Police Department.
“As alleged, Rentboy.com profited from the promotion of prostitution despite their claim that their advertisements were not for sexual services. Thanks to the detectives, agents, and prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District involved in this investigation, these individuals will be held accountable for running this racket,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton.
HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Sorge stated, “The facilitation and promotion of prostitution offenses across state lines and international borders is a federal crime made even more egregious when it’s blatantly advertised by a global criminal enterprise,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Sorge of HSI New York. “HSI will use its unique authorities to disrupt and dismantle such organizations and seize the millions of dollars in illegal proceeds they generate,” Sorge said.
Following the unsealing of the criminal complaint in court, the government served warrants authorizing the seizure of over $1.4 million of alleged criminal proceeds from six bank accounts, and took steps to restrain the www.rentboy.com domain name.
Posted in The Takedown