New York office of male escort website raided, CEO and six others arrested

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

7 Charged With Promoting Male Prostitution At Manhattan Escort Service.

A self-proclaimed cyber pimp who operated an online gay escort service out of a Manhattan office was busted Tuesday for promoting prostitution, federal authorities said.NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — 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. But federal authorities, who called it the largest online male-escort service and arrested the site’s chief executive and several other employees on Tuesday, said that was exactly what was happening. Jeffrey Hurant, the CEO of Rentboy.com who claims he attended Oxford University, allegedly raked in more than $10 million between 2010 and 2015 from male prostitutes who paid monthly subscription fees to advertise to prospective johns. “Escort profile pages generally detail the sexual acts each escort is willing to perform and the price,” U.S.

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security, along with officers from the NYPD, carried boxes of documents and computer servers out of the Rentboy operations center. Although the site, founded in 1997, required visitors to accept the terms of service, the criminal complaint said visitors would arrive at a home page stocked with escorts’ profiles listing sexual services and fees. Hurant, 50, blabbed in an interview with unidentified reporters that while in England, he learned the term “rentboy” was slang for an escort, and that he started the website “to keep the oldest profession in the world up to date with all the latest technology,” according to the complaint. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused 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. Escorts pay to post the profiles, and the site’s visitors contact them directly to arrange meetings. “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 T.

Currie, acting United States attorney for New York’s Eastern District, said in a statement. “He’s upset and confused about how this legitimate business could become the subject of a Homeland Security investigation,” he said. 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 Homeland Security Investigations arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was involved in the investigation, apparently because it believed the site promoted prostitution across state and national borders. “I don’t think we do anything to promote prostitution,” Mr. Also charged were six former and current employees of the website including marketing director Michael Belman, who is married to a Yale University professor of American Studies, and former accountant Marco Decker, who is married to a Mt. Each defendant faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiring to commit crimes involving interstate or foreign travel, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.

Escorts list “primary interests,” ranging from “vanilla” (“nice and clean”) to leather to role play to other fetishes. “A user can filter by a number of categories,” from primary interests to preferred sexual position, the complaint says. Edward Estanol, who is identified in the court papers as a male escort, listed his “in-and-out rate as $300 an hour, his overnight rate as $1,400 and his weekend rate as $3,000,” the complaint states.

In one profile quoted in the complaint, an escort in Manhattan advertising as Ryan Raz said, “I have a very innocent shy mid-west look, but once you get me behind closed doors it’s an amazing experience.” He charged $300 per hour for a standard visit. Diana Mattos, a sales account manager at the website, called herself an “escort whisperer” who helped the male prostitutes raise their social media profiles. Hurant’s lawyer Charles Hochbaum said the case will turn on his client’s First Amendment right to advertise the services of people “who are willing to be escorts accompanying people for their time and being paid.” Hurant, who gave the agent a business card with the email address cyberpimp@rentboy.com on it and explained that the Hookies were about celebrating sex “so good, you had to tell someone.” One of the other six defendants is Michael Sean Belman, 47, the director of the site.

Belman has given interviews indicating that he knows the escorts are offering sex, such as describing the Hookies winners as “sexual therapists.” Another of those arrested was Edward Lorenz Estanol, 23, an escort, Hookies award nominee and former social-media coordinator for the site.

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