Web-based reverse stings involve police posting online decoy ads and setting up a reverse sting operation at a hotel or apartment. A variation of this approach involves police responding to real online ads, replacing pimps and prostituted persons with police decoys, and continuing to take calls from johns on the survivors’ phones. An alternative web-based reverse sting involves women police decoys responding to online ads placed by johns.
For more information on this method for attacking demand employed in over 550 cities and counties in the U.S. since 1995, please access the resources below. If you wish to learn more about specific communities what have used this tactic, please go to the “locations” page and select “web stings” from the list of tactics, and then you can explore locations that have used web-based reverse stings by selecting from among sites shown on the map.
Overview of Web-Based Reverse Stings in the U.S.
- Web Reverse Sting Overview National Assessment (PDF, 31 k)
Examples of News Reports on Web-Based Reverse Stings
- Bellevue, WA (July, 2017)
- McLennan County, TX (September, 2017)
- Oklahoma City, OK (October, 2013)
- Pekin, IL (April, 2011)
- Philadelphia, PA (April, 2013)
- Polk County, FL (October, 2017)
- Provo, UT (May, 2009)
- San Jose, CA (June, 2012)
- Santa Rosa, CA (February, 2014)
- Seattle, WA (July, 2015)
- Staten Island, NY (June, 2016)
Articles and Reports on Web-Based Prostitution
- Roe-Sepowitz, D., Hedberg, J., & Schmidt, C. (2013). Invisible Offenders: A Study Estimating Online Sex Customers. Arizona State University.
- Daneback, K., Ross, M.W., & Månsson, S-A. (2006). Characteristics and behaviors of sexual compulsives who use the internet for sexual purposes. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13:53-67
- Galvin, (2011). Internet helps prostitution thrive. Albuquerque Journal, July 23.
- Kristof, N. (March 18, 2012). Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods. New York Times.
- LaPeter, L. (2006). Escorts leave the streets to get on the superhighway. St. Petersburg Times Online.
- McCabe, K.A. (2008). The role of Internet service providers in cases of child pornography and child prostitution. Social Science Computer Review, 26(2):247-251.
- Mitchell, K.J., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2005). The internet and family and acquaintance sexual abuse. Child Maltreatment, 10(1):49-60.
- Roane, K.R. (1998). Prostitutes on wane in New Yorkstreets but take to the Internet. New York Times, February 23.
- Ross, M. (2005). How the Internet is bringing the world’s oldest profession to a neighborhood near you. Diablo Magazine, June.
- Ross, M.W., Månsson, S.A, Daneback, K., & Tikkanen, R. (2005): Characteristics of men who have sex with men on the Internet but identify as heterosexual, compared with heterosexually identified men who have sex with women. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 8:131-139.
- Sanders, J.Q. (2008). Central Arkansas prostitutes taking business to web. Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Northwest Arkansas Edition, February 11.
- Shaffer, J. (2008). Internet’s Anonymity Fuels Surge in Sex Traffic. Scripps News. Accessed March 3.
- Young, A.B. (2013). Vice squad prostitution ring features increasingly common online solicitations. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, January 7, 2013. http://lubbockonline.com/crime-and-courts/crime/2013-01-05/vice-squad-prostitution-ring-features-increasingly-common-online
- Youngbee, D. (2010). South Korea: Internet teen prostitution becomes out of control. Human Rights Examiner.
- Prostitution-Ad Revenue Still Falls Short Of Past Craigslist Totals
- Santa Fe, New Mexico: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324761004578286321351312566.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
Recent News Reports on Internet Prostitution & Trafficking
- Alaska: Teen Sex Trafficking Hides in the Internet
- Beloit, WI: Prostitution moves from street to web. January 28, 2012
- Chula Vista, CA: http://www.thestarnews.com/latest-news/sex-trafficking-rides-internet-highway/. November 26, 2011
- Douglas County, GA: http://www.douglascountysentinel.com/news/local/article_f56d8180-498f-11e3-a7ee-001a4bcf6878.html November 10, 2013
- El Paso, TX: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_24352016 October 21, 2013
- Fayetteville, AR: http://www.fox16.com/content/news/state/story/Uncovering-Prostitution-in-Northwest-Arkansas/kIIswsTMtkKgs6BESa79pA.cspx May 9, 2013
- Grand Rapids, MI: Prostitution: Internet classifieds create element of secrecy, challenges for police. November 17, 2013
- Jacksonville, FL: http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131110/A_NEWS/311100313/-1/A_NEWS06 November 9, 2012
- Lancaster, PA: Sex for Sale Along Route 30 Tourist Strip September 1, 2013
- Lexington, MA: http://lexington.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/technology-tips-lead-lexington-police-to-prostitutes June 12, 2012
- San Angelo, TX: Sex Trafficking flourishes in the internet age. July, 2013
- Staten Island, NY: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/06/staten_island_hookers_just_a_m.html June 9, 2013
- Tucson, AZ: http://www.wdam.com/story/22045356/prostitutes-flock-to-popular-websites. April 24, 2013
- Worcester, MA: Prostitution moving online, indoors, making arrests tougher. November 17, 2013