Airbnb used as brothel in Midtown Memphis
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Two women and three men were arrested in Midtown Memphis after Memphis Police Department found a brothel operating out of a rental property.
The house was being rented out from Airbnb. The company said it removed the listing as soon as it learned of the investigation.
"Airbnb has zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we are outraged over what has reportedly taken place. We immediately removed this user from our community and we are fully supporting our host. Airbnb runs background checks on all US residents using the platform and we are urgently investigating this in coordination with local law enforcement."
Investigators said they first learned of prostitution happening at the Airbnb rental when a neighbor reported seeing 31 men visit a house on Oliver Avenue in just three days.
Officers found an online posting advertising sex at the house. They contacted the advertiser, who confirmed prices for sexual favors ($60 for a quick service, $80 for a half hour, $120 for a full hour).
Investigators then executed a search warrant at the house.
Inside they found used condoms strewn about the floor, jars of marijuana, $4,058 in cash, a handgun that's believed to be stolen, and three children.
The children were taken to Department of Children Services.
Investigators arrested five people on various crimes related to the investigation: Tahlia Hecht, Shanice Johnson, Ricardo Gales, Travis Young, and Jamarcus Young.
Hecht told investigators she provides for Travis Young through prostitution. She said Young does not have a job, but he reserves rental properties for her to use while prostituting. She said she pays for the rentals and supports Young with the proceeds she makes.
Young faces charges of promoting prostitution, as well as money laundering.
Tuesday, the owners of the home brought in a cleaning crew.
One neighbor said they removed the listing from Airbnb and are devastated.
Kevin Lambert, another neighbor, said the group picked the wrong place to set up shop.
"They definitely made a bad choice coming over here and thank God we have neighbors that are vigilant," Lambert said.
Additionally, Airbnb released the following safety tips:
Tips For Hosts:
1. Set Requirements for Your Listing: Each and every person on Airbnb has a detailed profile page with information about themselves. In order to sign up for Airbnb, you must provide a full name, date of birth, photo, phone number, and email address. Hosts can choose to require that their guests provide Airbnb a government ID before booking their listing, which then requires you as a host to do so as well.
2. Get To Know Your Guest in Advance: On the Airbnb platform, we have a safe and easy way for hosts to get to know their prospective guest before confirming a reservation. Our secure messaging tool lets you ask each other questions, and set clear expectations for the stay.
3. Read Previous Community Reviews: You also have our global community to rely on. If you're curious what a previous host's experience has been with a potential guest, all you need to do is check their reviews ahead of time. Both guests and hosts publicly review each other and only do so after the reservation is complete, so you know the feedback is informed, unbiased, and real.
On Background, More Safety Information:
- style="margin-left: 40px;">Background Checks: We screen all hosts and guests globally against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watch lists. For United States residents, we also run background checks for certain felony convictions, sex offender registrations, or significant misdemeanors. We screen all hosts and guests globally against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watch lists.
- style="margin-left: 40px;">Risk Scoring: To prevent bad actors from ever accessing our platform in the first place, each and every Airbnb reservation is assessed for risk ahead of time. We have a real-time detection system that uses machine learning and predictive analytics to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals to flag and then stop any suspicious activity. When we detect potentially concerning behavior, our team takes a range of actions, from requesting additional information such as a government ID or credit card verification to removing a user from the platform entirely.
- style="margin-left: 40px;">Detailed Profiles: Each and every person on Airbnb has a detailed profile page with information about themselves and their home. In order to sign up for Airbnb, you must provide a full name, date of birth, photo, phone number, and email address. Hosts can also require that guests provide a government ID before booking their listing, and then the host, in turn, is required to do so as well.
- style="margin-left: 40px;">Secure Messaging: Through the Airbnb platform, we also have a safe and easy way for guests and hosts to get to know each other directly before requesting or approving a reservation. Our secure on-platform messaging tool can help you break the ice, ask each other questions, and set clear expectations—something we highly recommend doing.
- style="margin-left: 40px;">Reviews: Plus, you also have a global community to rely on. If you’re curious what previous guests have thought about your potential host or home or if you want to know what someone else’s experience has been with a prospective guest, all you need to do is check their reviews. Guests and hosts publicly review each other and only after the reservation is complete, so you know the feedback is informed, unbiased, and real.
- style="margin-left: 40px;">24/7 Global Response & Assistance: In the rare event that any issue should arise, Airbnb’s global Customer Service and Trust and Safety teams are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in 11 different languages to help make things right with re-booking assistance, as well as refunds, reimbursements, and insurance programs. If for instance, you arrive at a listing and it’s not as advertised, all you need to do is reach out to our team as we are here to help.
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