Federal agents raided the offices of Rentboy.com Tuesday, in Manhattan. The popular gay online escort service is allegedly involved in a money laundering and state prostitution investigation, according to authorities. Seven people, including the website's CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested as part of the raid and charged with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution.
Although disclaimers on the site claim that the site is for companionship and not sexual services, prosecutors say that the site's primary purpose is advertising illegal prostitution. Kelly Curie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern district of New York, released a statement:
"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."
The Department of Homeland Security is also involved in the investigation, as it involves the transfer of money across state lines. Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, released a statement:
"The facilitation and promotion of prostitution offenses across state lines and international borders is a federal crime made even more egregious when it's blatantly advertised by a global criminal enterprise."
Although the escort industry has been highly stigmatized for years, various advocates like Conner Habib, are fighting to gain rights for sex workers.