Feds shut down Rentboy.com

Timothy Kincaid

August 25th, 2015

RentboyWhat a glorious day! The Federal Government has solved all major issues before it.

The kinks in the medical care delivery system are smoothed out. Funding has been found to provide social security to future generations. Environmental policy is now such that we can leave in a cleaner world and also compete economically. ISIS has disbanded, Iran has disclosed and dismantled its nuclear programs, and Israel and her neighbors have made peace. And a sustainable energy source has been discovered that neither places reliance on foreign nations nor mildly annoys the spotted titmouse.

Yes it’s a glorious day.

And how do I know that all these achievements have been accomplished? Because the US Federal Government expended time and effort into shutting down Rentboy.com, a website that allows escorts and their potential customers to meet each other, and arresting its employees.

And surely that has to be about the lowest possible priority that Homeland Security, or any governmental unit, could have.

Now I’m not going to pretend that Rentboy is anything other than what it is: a vehicle for prostitution. Although selling sex is forbidden by the site (in a wink and nod at legality) few participants on the site expect that their clients want them to accompany them to the opera (though some may want you to help them lift luggage in Europe).

No, it’s a hustler site. Which is fine with me.

My view of prostitution – or, at least, male prostitution – is based in pragmatism.

My life has shown me that there are those who have been given a great mind and an ability to succeed financially, but a who are unlikely to ever saunter down the street to the admiring gaze of all. And I have also met those who dazzle the eye with their natural beauty but find it beyond their abilities to make change or write a coherent sentence.

I suppose those who fall in neither camp could insist that the physically less fortunate should just drastically reduce his expectations. Surely he can find someone on his own level. But, sadly, even the ugly often don’t want to date the ugly. So for many of these men, the options can end up being hiring a prostitute or having no sex at all.

And I really can’t think of any option for the beautifully stupid other than to hope that someone with economic potential falls for them and is willing to pay their bills and put up with less than stellar conversation. It happens.

Of course not all johns are unappealing nor are all hustlers dumb. The reasons to exchange money for sex are multitudinous. Time constraints may hinder the building of relationships, small town attitudes may have social costs, emotional tendencies may cause one to not date well, loss of a partner might cause one not to want to seek a mate but still fulfill sexual needs. And these all seem valid reasons to me.

But, perhaps you disagree. Maybe you believe that prostitution is demeaning and abusive and lends itself to sex trafficking and sexual slavery. And in some cases it may.

And I grant you that it’s not a good long-term plan, especially for an aging call boy.

But even if you oppose prostitution in general, let’s be honest.

Prostitution is not going to stop by shutting down Rentboy. Lonely men who have no luck in bars or on hook-up sites are still going to hunt out desireable men to pay for sex. And men who need funds are still going to be willing to offer their body for cash. That isn’t going to stop, or even likely diminish.

However, now they will do so without the protection of a site that allows for feedback and has at least some knowledge of the identity of both the escort and the john.

Now that Rentboy is gone, we can expect to see an increase in extortion, faceless crime, and physical violence. It is no coincidence that they Craigslist murders were not Rentboy murders. And we will likely also find that those who once had some measure of control over their situation will now be under the control of pimps and abusers. This decision by Homeland Security has helped no one and likely endangered many.

Ah, but the Feds have shut down the homosexual prostitutes. And I’m sure they are giving themselves a pat on the back.


August 25th, 2015

So much for progressive government from Progressive Jesus. Meanwhile Snowden rots in Russia as well while Bradley Manning has been accused of “contraband” and has been sent off to torturous confinement as a vendetta against those who dare challenge the power of government.

I’m sure Clinton or Sanders will come to power claiming some crusade against student loans and yet as their terms come to pass much will be the same.Power serves power.

I’m pretty sure Rentboy.com was removed for real estate reasons or failing to pay tribute to some business interest.

Priya Lynn

August 25th, 2015

Well summed up, Timothy.

Rob in San Diego

August 25th, 2015

So rentboy bad, but Ashley Madison OK? Were those clients not paying to have a guaranteed affair?

Eric M

August 26th, 2015

While I disagree with the laws against prostitution, it is against the law and there are federal agencies whose mission statement is to enforce the law of the land within this country.

Honestly, the first paragraphs were of the sort that is among the cheapest rhetorical devices, and one that is often used when bills targeting LGBT discrimination are brought before legislative bodies.

Should all government agencies really stop doing everything else until the Middle East is a peaceful and prosperous place for everyone? Or until our trade deficits are reversed and no American is in poverty? Or should we expect our government to multi-task?

I do believe all of the things you listed are higher priorities, but I wouldn’t want the federal government to stop enforcing a law I do agree with until priority one is taken care of. It therefore follows that I can’t complain when it enforces a law I disagree with before it solves world hunger and humankind’s willingness to be cruel to itself.

Richard Rush

August 26th, 2015

So, I assume the Feds will now be going after Donald Trump’s wife, former wives, and the various women he “dated.”

PS: Good commentary, Timothy.

Priya Lynn

August 26th, 2015

“So rentboy bad, but Ashley Madison OK? Were those clients not paying to have a guaranteed affair?”.

No, Ashley Madison bad, but Rentboy Okay.

On rentboy both parties agree to a business arrangement both are happy with and no one is hurt. On Ashley Madison clients cheat on their unsuspecting spouse and the spouse is hurt.


August 26th, 2015

Priya, I read Rob’s comment as assuming the perspective of the Feds. I.e. the government is OK with people paying to have affairs, but not with them paying for sex.

Of course, I don’t know how much the US government could do about a Canadian website, but there are certainly all kinds of hypocrisies here.

Priya Lynn

August 26th, 2015

Yes Nathaniel, I figured that out after I posted.


August 26th, 2015

Has ANYONE explained why the f*ck DHS (ICE Division) was the lead agency on this???? I know that some functions of Treasury–like the Secret Service–were consolidated under DHS, but this make no sense to me at all. It was the thing that jumped out at me the most (after the fact that this was total overkill in the first place).


August 26th, 2015

@Eric M

Just to emphasize, the Department of HOMELAND SECURITY has at least a THOUSAND more important things to do than to bust an escort service (unless of course half their agents were using their services).


August 26th, 2015

BTW, there’s a further undercurrent on this.

Despite Rentboy.com being Manhattan-based (domain of the US District Attorney for the Southern District of NY), the (obviously bored and Loretta Lynch-less) Eastern District Office is the one that pursued this.

I don’t know who replaced Lynch, but whoever it is–or whoever is vying for the position–literally overstepped their boundary to get headlines.


August 26th, 2015

ICE does deal with sex trafficking, usually operating in the US with imported prostitutes. So that is probably why they are involved. The site is now down, so I couldn’t look at it to see if they have transnational rent boys.

I also wanted to see what their set up is that makes Timothy think that this site made prostitution safe (or at least safer).

If there are reviews (?honest?) about the prostitutes, that might help the clients (avoiding the violent, drugged up escort), but not sure how rent boy.com deals with complaints from clients or escorts, it at all.

Prostitution is inherently dangerous for both customer and prostitute. The fact that the activity is illegal increases the risk of extortion and violence, but even in countries where prostitution is legal (German and the Netherlands) governments still struggle with human trafficking issues, exploitation, violence, biker clubs that control the “Bouncer” jobs, thus controlling the bordello, etc.

I am not sure what the answer is. Our current situation isn’t very good for anyone. On the other hand, I am surprised that rent boy.com has lasted as long as it has, given that it is essentially a pretty brazen prostitution operation in a country where prostitution is illegal.


August 26th, 2015


Thanks for that piece of info. I was not aware of ICE’s role. That said, I have never heard about cross-border sex trafficking of males (or at least not about it as a big problem).

Not that it doesn’t occur, but I’m guessing the only ones involved there would be underage and that’s a whole other issue (which I am sure rentboy.com did it’s utmost to avoid). (No clue at all: did rentboy peddle Transgendered escorts???–Transgendered individuals definitely do get abused/trafficked)

I haven’t really followed it, but to the best of my knowledge prostitution in Nevada is closely regulated–with frequent mandatory health tests and other such measures. I think the sex workers are even unionized. I only hear Bible-thumpers complaining about it. I can’t recall any but the most aggressive of the anti-prostitution feminist activists complaining about Nevada.


August 26th, 2015

Let’s please try not to turn every conversation about sex work into another handwringing session over sex trafficking.

The escorts on Rentboy paid to advertise themselves on the site. Unless someone was holding a gun to their heads forcing them to fork over payment they were doing this of their own volition. There was no bordello or basement dungeon that anyone was in control of.

The fact that Rentboy was based in NY and many of their advertisers and their clients were from other jurisdictions is what makes this case “cross-border”. Cross border in this case doesn’t mean hand cuffed 16 year olds being smuggled across state lines in the back of white paneled vans and locked in basement brothels.

Unless the Russian mob was keeping men locked up as sex slaves and using Rentboy as a business portal for their services—a strange business model and not something that appears in the criminal complaint— it’s likely this bust isn’t doing anything to stem the tide of sex trafficking or save any victims.

Priya Lynn

August 26th, 2015

John said “Prostitution is inherently dangerous for both customer and prostitute.”.

Its inherently dangerous because its illegal – customers and prostitutes can’t seek out the protection of the law. Legalized prostitution may not eliminate sex trafficking or violence but it minimizes it. There’s no rational justification for making prostitution illegal.

Mark F.

August 26th, 2015

Well said. I have hired a few gentlemen for sex, and the experience has always been positive. I’d do it more if I could afford it.

Timothy Kincaid

August 26th, 2015


I also wanted to see what their set up is that makes Timothy think that this site made prostitution safe (or at least safer).

I’m not intimately familiar with rentboy.com. However, as I understand it, to be listed in their service you had to pay a monthly fee. Which usually means a credit card. I also assume that there is some record of connections or communications between client and proprietor, such that if John Buyer ends up mysteriously dead, rentboy may be able to see that he recently was talking with Billy Trick.

Of course that is still at risk for hack of records or from the US Government seizing the records, but otherwise it would appear to be somewhat safer than driving up and rolling down your window and asking how much for a handjob. For both parties.

Richard Rush

August 26th, 2015

Priya Lynn said, “Its inherently dangerous because its illegal – customers and prostitutes can’t seek out the protection of the law. Legalized prostitution may not eliminate sex trafficking or violence but it minimizes it. There’s no rational justification for making prostitution illegal.”

Bingo!, Priya, you win the thread.

Timothy said “Now that Rentboy is gone, we can expect to see an increase in extortion, faceless crime, and physical violence.” And I think that is exactly what the anti-prostitution zealots want to see . . . so they can then cite stats to fire up a crusade for more aggressive prosecution.

Timothy Kincaid

August 26th, 2015


There was a sex slave operation in Miami ran by Hungarians which did lock up three guys as sex slaves. They also did post on rentboy to some extent.

They primarily seemed, however, to use livejasmin, a video streaming service, and make they boys perform together.

It appears that one of the clients notified a sex slavery hotline.


August 27th, 2015

Priya Lynn wrote: “On rentboy both parties agree to a business arrangement both are happy with and no one is hurt. On Ashley Madison clients cheat on their unsuspecting spouse and the spouse is hurt.”

You don’t think it possible, maybe even likely, that some of the clients on Rentboy.com “cheat on their unsuspecting spouse[s] and the spouse[s are] hurt”?

Priya Lynn

August 27th, 2015

“You don’t think it possible, maybe even likely, that some of the clients on Rentboy.com “cheat on their unsuspecting spouse[s] and the spouse[s are] hurt”?”.

Of course they do. But rentboy.com is not appealing to people specifically to cheat on their spouses. Unlike the case with Ashley Madison rentboy isn’t condoning cheating on spouses and hurting them nor is it set up specifically to facilitate cheating. Rentboy.com is not responsible for people misusing their service. Ashley Madison is responsible for people using their service as Ashley Madison intended.

Eric M

August 27th, 2015


Even if DHS were not an unwieldy, poorly cobbled together, largely unnecessary agency, that is a different matter all together than the one I was trying to emphasize about Tim’s opening salvos in this post.

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