Is Craigslist pimping prostitutes?
On September 4th eight women visited Long Island N.Y. along with the average vacationing families and business travelers. They stayed in motels in commercial strips and middle class neighborhoods such as East Garden City, Hicksville and Woodbury. Their ages ranged from twenty to thirty two. Of these women three came from San Francisco, one from Miami, and the others came from neighboring cities such as Newark, Elizabeth N.J. and from Brooklyn. On the surface there was nothing out of the ordinary about these women, but if you scratched a little deeper your would find that they were hookers. All eight woman were eventually arrested on prostitution charges in a new sting operation by the Nassau County police department focusing on Craigslist ads.
The ubiquitous Craigslist has now become a target of vice departments across the country in sting operations to catch prostitutes using the internet and Craigslist to sell their services. Since the Nassau vice squad started focusing their attention on Craigslist last year, they have made over 70 arrests. Police departments across the country now routinely monitor Craigslist for prostitution activity, sometimes placing decoy ads to catch would be customers. Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives has stated “Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now. Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest."
Aside from patrolling for prostitutes in the traditional sense looking for street walkers, brothels and massage parlors, officers now hunch over a hot computer screen for hours scouring the pages of cyberspace, but mainly Craigslist. In an interesting turn of events, the statistics have shifted dramatically from what one would expect. In raids this past July police rounded up 43 women walking the streets soliciting for prostitution, while during the same time they rounded up 60 women on Craigslist pages for the same thing. In similar sting operations placing decoy ads on Craigslist, 71 men ranging in professions from bank officers to construction workers were also arrested for seeking prostitutes on Craigslist.
In August of last year in Jacksonville Florida, a single decoy ad posted on Craigslist netted 33 men, among them a teacher and a firefighter. Assistant police chief John P. Hartley is reported to have stated “We got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hits.”
It's a well known fact that sex and the internet has been intertwined since the web was first created, but police say that prostitution is flourishing on line more today than ever before. While prostitutes have been known to advertise on other sites, Craigslist is by far their favorite due to their relaxed posting criteria, total lack of oversight, and a complete unwillingness by Craigslist to make any attempts to stop the law breakers. While the staff at Craigslist may give lip service to the idea of stopping prostitutes from using their site to find potential customers, they have not backed those words with any actions. As a clear example of Craigslist lack of action, one recent day over 9,000 listings were added to the "Erotic Services" category in New York alone. Most ads offered massage and escort services, while unabashedly hinting at more.
Police officials have accused Craigslist of enabling prostitution, but the companies president, Jim Buckmaster has responded that his 24 member staff cannot patrol the multitude of constantly changing listings, and they count on the viewers to flag objectionable ads which are quickly removed. This is your typical load of B.S. corporate answer. In plain English this translates into "We don't feel like bothering with this problem" Another big problem with that response is that, if the readers are reading these listings to find the prostitutes, who will be flagging these listings? Maybe he means that the prostitutes will flag each other to reduce the herd, because the men readers certainly won't. Maybe he meant that the church groups will patrol their pages for them, so they don't have to? The end result is that the Erotic section of Craigslist gets more hits per month than all the other sections combined.
Buckmaster also stated that Craigslist is no different from old media publications which have long carried sex oriented ads. Law enforcement officials say that the scope and format of Craigslist makes it especially useful to the sex industry. With listings in over 450 cities around the world and a supposed readership of over 25 million users, posting sex ads for free makes it incredibly easy for prostitutes to sell their services discretely and affordably. This goes back to what I have posted on other articles were I have clearly demonstrated that Craigslist always tries to find a way to skirt issues and find whatever ground is convenient for them to stand on. In most cases Craigslist argues that it is not like the traditional media, and in this case because it is convenient, they argue that they are just like the old media. So which is it Craigslist? Are you like or unlike the old media? Craigslist staff would make really good politicians, since they seem to be good at talking out of both sides of their collective mouths.
The police claim that Craigslist has also changed the landscape of prostitution in a dramatic way. Due in large part to Craigslist, prostitutes can now roam the country setting up shop for a few weeks in a given town, use their cell phones and lap tops to set up meetings with customers for a few hundred dollars, then move to the next town and elude police. They like to move around because not all police departments are fully connected and when labeled as a prostitute in one town you can move along to another town and start with a clean slate, avoiding the local coppers. They also tend to go where the money is. Big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc make for the easiest and wealthiest targets.
On the flip side, just to show the damaging impact that Craigslist can have on a community and how little they really care, in Sandpoint Idaho, a small town with a population of 8,100, Police chief Mark Lockwood said that an arrest this past summer for prostitution involving Craigslist “was probably our first prostitution case since World War II.”
Pimps are also using Craigslist to find new meat. A Victor Teixeira, age 31 or Minneola was nabbed using Craigslist to post ads, sometimes three per day, recruiting women to become his prostitutes. Now I'm sure some of you are asking yourselves, "how is it that my listing gets ghosted but this guy's listings aren't?" That is exactly the point I have been making all along. Craigslist staff sticks their noses in the business of innocent people by flagging your ads when they feel like it, but the criminals are allowed to do as they please. Makes you wonder if Craigslist is in some way connected with organized crime? Getting a piece of the action? The smartest move the mob ever made was to go legit. Use Las Vegas as an example. Why have illegal gambling when you can make so much more money by putting a legitimate face on it.
Unfortunately most of those arrested on Craigslist are only charged with misdemeanor crimes resulting in fines of a few hundred dollars. Only the repeat offenders actually risk jail time. That is why the prostitutes on Craigslist like to keep on the move. The real disruption for these people is in the seizing of computers and cash, usually several thousands of dollars at a time. The police say that focusing on this type of crime is worthwhile for the simple reason that prostitutes are usually involved with other crimes such as drugs, weapons, physical abuse, exploitation of minors and illegal immigration.
So now you know if you really want to meet someone one on Craigslist, be aware that on the other side of that monitor screen it could be that sexy fantasy picture that was posted on the ad, or it could be a ugly old man with a drug habit waiting the beat the crap out of you and rob you of all your cash, a hooker with every disease in the book that you will bring back to your wife or girlfriend, or your local yokel cop waiting to take you downtown. Either way, if you answer an erotic ad on Craigslist, you're going to be screwed, just not in the good way!
Aside from what we have already discussed, there are a couple of Sex Scam that take place on Craigslist all the time. The first is when a guy sets up a date with a girl, and they meet, and they decide to go to a hotel room. Everything's cool so far. Then when they get inside the hotel room, the girl tells the guy "Give me $2000 cash or I'll rip my clothes and say you tried to rape me!" WOW, what a anticlimax that is! What do you do? Well, if you don't want your wife to find out, you pay her! The girls know this is an easy scam because the guys have no one to complain to. Are they going to call the cops and say they just got ripped off by a hooker? I think not!
The second sex scam is the old, "Ill be right back" scam. A guy meets a girl and takes her the the hotel room. The girl asks for the money. The guy produces the money with bated breath. The girl says "Let me give this to my driver so it will be safe. I'll be right back baby." You guessed it! She never comes back. Instant rip off. Again, who is the guy going to complain to? No one!
UPDATE: Did you know that up until recently it was FREE to post on the Erotic section of Craigslist, but now you have to Pay to post in this section? Does that make Craigslist a PIMP for the Hookers that advertise on Craigslist? Police departments around the country have repeatedly asked, begged and pleaded with Craigslist to remove the Erotic section which is well known for being an advertising venue for hookers. In every instance Craigslist has refused to do so, with no understandable reason put forth. Now in an attempt to make the section more legitimate Craigslist claims they instituted a policy of charging for advertising in the Erotic section. I must therefore ask, does this mean that the hookers will stop advertising because they must pay a small fee to post on Craigslist or has Craigslist now become a well paid PIMP?
UPDATE: Is the Erotic services section gone? I don't think so! It didn't take hardly any time at all. All the hookers have moved from the "Erotic" section to the "Adult" section and/or the "Casual Encounters" section. Wow, like that was really hard to predict. Read any cities "Adult" or "Casual Encounters" section and the ads are so incredibly blatant it's not even funny. I knew you couldn't keep down a good hooker, well, unless you are on top of her. Oooooohhhhhhh, I am just terrible! SNAP!
UPDATE 2018 The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling!!!! Well, that is what some people may be screaming. It seems that after soooo many years of people begging, and threatening Craigslist trying to get them to take down all their personals section, it has finally happened. As of March 2018 Craigslist has now also closed down the Personals section. What is this world coming to?! It seems that finally after Congress passed HR 1865 Craigslist decided that now they are REALLY on the hot seat and in potential risk of being sued by the Federal government for people misusing their personals section. It has long been known that the personals section on Craigslist has been used and abused by Scammers and Prostitutes alike. So I can't say that too many decent people will be affected by this. Now where on earth are those poor hookers going to get their Johns? Oh dear, will they become Homeless (or Unsheltered as the PC crowd in Los Angeles calls them now). Who knows, but at least "another one bites the dust". Personals section is gone from Craigslist. It was fun while it lasted. I wonder if the hookers and scammers will start advertising their services in the Gigs section next?