Thursday, April 27, 2006
7 News Features: Sex for Sale
Everybody's seen advertisements for escorts in South Florida. Well tonight, we found one service where people can find more than friendship. But what makes it so bizarre is where the advertising service is located. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has more in tonight's special assignment report - Sex For Sale.
WSVN--These women on the web advertise themselves as escorts with rates ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
But police don't buy it.
Undercover Vice Officer: "Escort, companion... Every time we see that it's a big alert for us that it's related to prostitution."
We found one internet service that advertises escorts based in a respectable neighborhood in Coral Springs according to sworn testimoney last September.
There's even a religious statue in the front yard.
But behind these doors, a web site, MiamiExotics.com, operates.
You won't find escorts her - but the intermet site offers ads for everything from South Beach models to transvestites.
Click through to a pay site and read reviews that make it clear - sex is for sale.
Frances Stapleton: "We sell internet advertising - ads."
Thirty-nine-year old Frances Stapleton is the only officer and shareholder in the corporation that owns MiamiExotics.com.
Attorney: "What else does it own?"
Francis Stapleton: "A lot of different URL's."
Attorney: "Like which ones?"
Frances Stapleton: "Latina Exotics. Ft. Lauderdale Exotics. Palm Beach Exotics. It owns a lot."
Last September - Stapleton answered questions about her operation in connection with a breach of contract lawsuit.
Attorney: "To the best of your knowledge has illegal prostitution arise through your web site?"
Frances Stapleton: "No."
She appeared to take offense at questions about prostitution and denied any involvement.
Frances Stapleton: "I'm an advertising site - I don't deal with that."
But when one of our producers contacted a woman on the site named Laura, she promised a sensual rub at a nearby hotel.
Cops say a massage is often code for something much more.
Undercover Police Officer: "Rubdown equals prostitution."
In our case, shortly after Laura arrived, she was taking off her clothes and offering a rub down for $120 dollars or sex for $150.
WSVN Producer: "For $150 you can get the whole thing. And I questioned her. I said 'what is the whole thing' and we had an exchange where she said you know what the whole thing is and I said I don't know what the whole thing is. Yes you do, no I don't. Finally she caved and said for $150, I will have sex with you."
Our producer told Laura he changed his mind - paid the massage fee and she left the room.
But what she didn't know is, I was waiting outside.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like to know how long you're been using the internet as an escort service for prostitution?"
And with that she rushed into an open room and locked herself in the bathroom crying.
But after we talked for a few minutes she agreed to an interview.
Laura says she is here illegally and was afraid we would report her to authorities.
Carmel Cafiero: "People don't pay this kind of money for company do they?"
Carmel Cafiero: "They want sex?"
Laura: "Yea - most of them."
Carmel Cafiero: "Why do you do this?"
Laura: "Because I need the money."
Laura said she paid one hundred dollars a month for her ad on MiamiExotics and got - on average - a couple of calls a week.
Her ad was gone the next day.
Carmel Cafiero: "Hi - Carmel Cafiero - Channel 7 - I'd like to talk to you about Miami Exotics."
I wanted to talk with Francis Stapleton about Laura's offer for prostitution... but she continued with a cell phone conversation.
Carmel Cafiero: "I'd like some comment from you."
Frances Stapleton: "Wait a minute, let me get something from the car."
She would eventually drive away without answering.
Frances Stapleton: "I said I got Carmel Cafiero or something following me right now about something."
This time it was a TV station making the date and asking the questions.
Next time it might be law enforcement.
Undercover Police Officer: "We go on line and we start looking for the girls that we want to target that day."
And more and more often - police are finding those girls offering sex for sale.