MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Men are offering vulnerable women a free place to live - but with a price.
FOX13 Investigates discovered ads being placed -- a roof over your head in exchange for sex.
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Defense Attorney Blake Ballin said, “When you've got an ad that explicitly says, ‘I’ll give you a free place to live if you have sex with me,’ I think that's problematic.”
We found a bunch of ads online offering just that. One ad offered a free place to stay.
The poster says, "All you have to do is service me two times a week for a couple hours and the rest of the time is yours."
Another ad asked if you want a change in life? There's a catch. The poster says it's easy, be his pet and live for free.
The ad says it's posted in all 50 states.
“I think that falls squarely within the prohibitive contact of patronizing prostitution,” Ballin added.
Crime data shows in 2016, there were 1,247 arrests for purchasing and promoting prostitution across the state.
One quarter of those happened in Memphis and Shelby County.
Ballin said in Tennessee, exchanging anything of value for sex is against the law even if the sex is consensual.
“Just because these folks are offering room and board and not cash money does not mean they aren't running afoul of the law,” said Ballin.
We set up an email account for an adult aged female and reached out to the posters.
It took less than two hours for a response confirming all he wanted was sex for a free place to stay "100%."
We showed the ads to Rachel Haaga. She runs Restore Corp in Memphis, a human trafficking advocacy group.
Her frustration is obvious. She said this is targeting the most vulnerable women adding, “The fact that someone is there and waiting points to the discouragement of this whole industry.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry behind drugs.
Shelby County has seen its fair share. It was one of four counties in the state to report more than 100 minor sex trafficking cases in the past two years.
We showed the ads to local law enforcement and the TBI.
They said they have teams that in part monitor sites like Craigslist for these types of ads. They set up their own stings but admit catching everyone is tricky.
Cox Media Group