Rent-for-sex ads prey on vulnerable women

Rent-for-sex ads prey on vulnerable women »Play Video
Frank gets a surprise as he leaves a Wendy's in Wilsonville and is confronted with a KATU News camera after he posted a rent-for-sex ad on craigslist.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Police said they are concerned about some online ads offering women, who are in a tough financial situation, sex for rent money.

This has been a problem nationally and now it is a local problem as well. KATU News found at least half a dozen ads in the past month on craigslist making pitches like this: “I help you with your bills if you share your love with me.”

Frank of Wilsonville posted one of these ads. He advertised on his posting that he is willing to help with rent and other bills as long as the woman meets his “personal needs.”

Sergeant Mike Geiger of the Portland Police Sexual Assault Unit said he’s never seen this kind of ad in this area.

“My reaction is really? You just advertise for this?” he said. “You know, engaging in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person where there is a fee involved is prostitution.”

Is that what Frank really wants? KATU went undercover to find out.

Frank asked KATU’s undercover reporter to meet him at a Wendy’s in Wilsonville. He wanted to know if she was a cop because he said he could get into trouble.

He said he’ll pay about half her rent for each month – about $300 – in exchange for sex three or four times a week with cuddling before and after to make an emotional connection.

“Well, of course it’s laughable,” said Geiger. “If you wanted to make an emotional connection with somebody, you’re not going to set up a circumstance where you pay them to have sex with you.”

Geiger said he is concerned that local women in desperate financial situations could fall for these offers. He said rent-for-sex offers are not just criminal they’re also dangerous.

He said he sees men who advertise rent for sex as possibly controlling, arrogant, even predatory.

“And know you’re with a person who expects something from you and then will demand it from you and may take it from you,” said Geiger. “You know, you’ve placed yourself in significant harm.”

What’s Frank’s view? It’s unknown if he is dangerous or if he fits the sergeant’s profile because as soon as he saw KATU’s camera outside the Wendy’s he took off running.

Another man, Don, from Southeast Portland, advertised for a college girl in need of help with tuition or rent and called it “our own dirty little secret”.

Instead, what he got was an undercover KATU News producer.

He wanted to meet at a Southeast Portland coffee shop. He told the undercover news producer he’d pay about a third of her rent – $200 a month – plus gas, food, and other expenses in return for a physical relationship and an intimate time with a younger woman.

He said, “Maybe it’s a midnight phone call saying, ‘Man, I could sure use some, you know, get you’re a— over here.’ You know what I mean?”

Again, when confronted with the KATU News camera for comment outside the coffee shop, Don, like Frank, broke into a run.

Neither Don nor Frank has been arrested or charged with a crime. But police want the people who post rent-for-sex ads to know that they’re on to them.

“If you think for a moment we don’t know what you’re doing, you’re wrong,” said Geiger. “If you think you can get away with this and treat people this way, you’re also wrong about that as well.”

KATU News contacted craigslist about this but have not heard back from them. Craigslist has been monitoring the adult postings for illegal ads, but these ads appeared in a different section of the site.

Police said if you’re financially desperate to reach out to someone else in your community for help and not to these kinds of online ads.