Federal agents this morning (Tuesday, Aug. 25) raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com and arrested seven employees, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, alleging the world’s largest male escort site promotes prostitution and engages in money laundering.
The site, founded in 1997, bills itself as “the world’s destination to meet the perfect male escort or masseur.” Escorts and masseurs pay to advertise on the site, sometimes shelling out several hundreds of dollars to find clients. For a minimum monthly fee, users can search for escorts, masseurs and rent boys based on location, as well as rates, age, talent and physical features.
While the site posts numerous disclaimers that ads are for companionship and not sexual services, prosecutors believe the site violates federal law against sex work.
“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,” Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Kelly Curie said in 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,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Sorge of Homeland Security Investigations of New York. “HSI will use its unique authorities to disrupt and dismantle such organizations and seize the millions of dollars in illegal proceeds they generate.”
Along with seizing nearly $1.4 million from six bank accounts, the government was also taking steps to shut down the site.
Hurant is currently awaiting a court appearance in New York.