CEO of Male Escort Site, 6 Workers Charged With Prostitution

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CEO and six employees of ‘world’s largest online male escort service’ RentBoy.com busted in a raid for promoting prostitution.

NEW YORK — The chief executive of a Manhattan-based online male escort service and six of his employees at Rentboy.com were arrested Tuesday on charges of promoting prostitution. The New York City offices of RentBoy.com, which touts itself as “The World’s Largest Male Escort Site,” were raided by federal agents Tuesday afternoon.CEO Jeffrey Hurant, arrested at the company’s Manhattan headquarters along with six other employees, was charged with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution, Reuters reported.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused Jeffrey Hurant of selling advertisements to high-priced male prostitutes for several hundred dollars, then charging Rentboy.com customers up to $299 a month to access the ads. The site, which was taken offline sometime Tuesday afternoon, hosts thousands of paid ads offering “companionship,” but prosecutors allege the site is actually pushing prostitution. Law enforcement officials were photographed removing computers and cardboard boxes labeled ‘evidence’ from the escort service’s nondescript headquarters house in a walkup.

Rentboy.com, whose slogan is “the world’s destination to meet the perfect male escort or masseur,” has been operating since 1997 and boasts a clientele of 10,500 men in 2,100 cities around the world. But prosecutors argue that while Rentboy peppered the site with disclaimers that its escorts were for companionship and not paid for sex, its intentions were to advertise for prostitutes. “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,” Kelly Currie, acting Brooklyn U.S. attorney, said in a statement. Outside court, he and his lawyer insisted his business was a legitimate companionship service, and that similar escort websites elsewhere have operated without becoming the target of a federal investigation. The RentBoy.com website was still live on the Internet as of Tuesday afternoon, when a search for Alabama escorts came up with three results – two in Birmingham and one in Mobile. Authorities served warrants to seize more than $1.4 million from six bank accounts and sought to restrain the site’s domain name, which was still functional as of press time.

The Mobile listing advertises the services of “Pornstar Tony Serrano,” who writes that he is the “[s]tar of many hot skin flix,” and describes himself as “a very down to earth, masculine Spanish/Italian guy that is very sensual & intelligent. I can stimulate u both mentally & physically,” before detailing his looks and sexual prowess and explaining that his “out rate” is $250 or more per hour while he charges $1,000 for an overnight encounter.

Advertising on the site can cost hundreds of dollars more, and users can pick the “sexual services they are willing to perform and the price charged,” prosecutors said. Hurant claimed in interviews he learned that the term “rentboy” was British slang for male escorts while he was attending Oxford University, according to the criminal complaint. The Internet has long harbored dark places where people can access and obtain illegal activities and materials – from prostitution and child pornography to mail-order illicit drugs and weapons. The raid comes on the heels of the release earlier this month of a trove of data hacked from the website AshleyMadison.com, which helps married individuals find people who will have affairs with them.

Asked by an undercover investigator who went to the 2015 Hookies how the show started, Hurant responded, “Have you ever had sex with anyone and it was so good you had to tell someone? The fallout from that hack continues this week, as more people find out that their spouses used the site, and public figures names emerge from the data dump.

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