A blog for escort business entrepreneurs

The Blueprint Blog is often updated with tips, ideas, and advice for entrepreneurs interested in opening and operating an escort service.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Issues with Advertising Venues for Escort Services

The problem of state and federal prosecutors and agents going after publishers (print and internet) that offer advertising to escort services is not new to me. This is something that Orlando's MBI has done for two decades and back in 1996, they succeeded in Orlando when they threatened Sprint Publishing (R.H. Donnelley) into eliminating the “escort services” category. The MBI went after Craigslist long before attorney generals from around the US decided to attempt it.

This year the major attention is on Backpage and has been since Craigslist caved. An escort service should never advertise its business on Backpage. In my Blueprint books I state that placing a sponsor ad in the “adult help wanted” category is okay if you feel it's necessary, but if your website is up and indexed in search engines and you have your local listings (like Places – formerly Maps), you shouldn't need to advertise for escorts because they'll call searching for work at the same time that potential clients start calling. The print yellow pages are also good for that, but unnecessary if you are in a major metropolitan area, like NYC or Los Angeles, and even Miami these days.

There is an even worse issue with Backpage right now though and I figured I had better mention it here. Sure, Backpage is fine for independent escorts that work completely alone to advertise, but I'm not so sure I'd book with one if I were a client. It is just too hot, hot, hot! The fly-by-night nature of the venue – anyone with a credit or debit card can place an ad any time and it immediately appears – has various law enforcement agencies using it in a variety of ways.

Yes, there are sting operations wherein the “escort” is actually a cop. When this happens it is often a result of cops busting the escort and taking over her ads with her permission. Anyone can be a Backpage escort at any time. Having a website and getting a Places listing is a bit more complicated and far from instant in either case. I have never liked incall operations and women that advertise incall at area hotels on Backpage are immediately suspect to me. Trust me – if the hotel had a clue, they'd call the cops and trespass her quickly, and these days hotels have cameras everywhere, at least here in Orlando.

However, my reason for posting this goes beyond all of this reasoning. I have been watching a trial that is currently in federal court in Orlando. All 12 defendants are from Eastern Europe and everyone in the case was indicted for conspiracy. Many defendants also have other charges – yes, even the unlicensed massage therapists. This outfit advertised on Craigslist in past and then later Backpage and it was all incall massage or the women working at spas here in Orlando, but also in Tampa, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Georgia. There could be other states that I haven't noted too. Anyway, all they did was offer incall massage or body rubs (unlicensed). I have discussed this case and trial in more depth on the Accused Madam Blog – all related posts are listed in the Sex Trafficking Trial – Orlando label. The Orlando Sentinel repeatedly referred to it as a “sex-trafficking ring” and I didn't realize how it was really charged until I accessed case documents in PACER.

One situation that I have not posted about on the other blog is that there are a lengthy list of clients testifying against these women. There is no witness list available, but if you look at the court/trial minutes for each day you can see the names that testified that day. Transcripts of testimony are sealed, but will be unsealed in December or January, once the trial is over. But they are clients, I have no doubt about that, and there are many. The telephone numbers these people had advertised in Backpage were wiretapped for almost a year according to case documents, so anyone that made an appointment would have been contacted by law enforcement.

Beyond that, the escorts.com case was resolved in a plea deal and the site is no longer operational. That was a messy case, but more because this business had so many phone sex 800 numbers and also sold porn on other websites. The escort advertising venue was also used in the takedown of the corporations involved. Read more about this case from First Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters: Killing the Messenger: The Campaign Against Online Escort Advertising Sites; Part 1 – Setting the Stage

So where does an escort business advertise? It should have at least one website and listings in all the online local listing services that are free, especially Places. Beyond that, it is best to search for the keyword phrase that is most important to your business and see which directory listing sites show on page 1 of search results. Don't forget the print yellow pages if you are not in a major metropolitan area, and even then a bold print one-line listing sure won't hurt.