Young women make cash through 'escort' service website

Is SeekingArrangement.com a front for prostitution?

DETROIT - Young college women who are trying to make money to pay for tuition, books, room and board are making a small fortune through one website.

Some are calling the women nothing more than high-tech hookers. What's the truth behind it?

It's called SeekingArrangement.com. It's a website that helps users establish mutually beneficial relationships. The New York Times calls it the best sugar-daddy fishing hole. It's a place for businessmen to meet young women.

It's not another Match.com. SeekingArrangement.com is set up for men to pay women cash for their time.

However, the creator of the website said it is not a sex site. The women featured, many of whom are college students, are not escorts, the creator said. Instead, the idea is men are willing to pay a woman to go out on dates and escort him on dates, but not in the traditional "escort" fashion.

The site features thousands of college students from across the country including many from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Oakland University and Wayne State University. Some of the local students told the Local 4 Defenders this is how they pay the bills.

A student at Wayne State, Chrissy, said she created a profile at SeekingArrangement.com and is profiting from it.

"The first time it'll probably be like dinner and drinks and stuff like that, very casual," she said. "And then you get into the whole, OK like, you're my companion type thing now so I can cover book expenses, car or rent."

Chrissy said she has her regulars who pay many of her college expenses just so they can spend time with her.

"It's really cool. It's like having an older friend," she said.

Just a friend. Not a friend with benefits.

Chrissy said even though she is paid hundreds of dollars each month by some men, she lays down the ground rules up front, telling the guy she is not willing to have a sexual relationship.

"If you can't agree with that then we can just move on from this," she said.

Chrissy is not alone. Deborah Grant also is a college student who is cashing in with the website.

"I've had guys meet me and take me to dinner and then the next time they took me to dinner they would just give me $400," Grant said.

Grant, like Chrissy, said it's not about sex.

"I could never live with myself, like, doing that," Grant said.

Hannah Harper said her profile helps pay for her tuition.

"I am attractive. So, why not use it to my advantage?" Harper said.

Harper also said she is strictly paid for her companionship, not sex.

Police investigators don't buy it. SeekingArrangement.com has been the focus of several investigations. After the Craigslist killer made his move, websites such as this were under the microscope.

Here in Detroit, after two alleged escorts were found dead, police worked to determine if their profiles on a website called Backpage helped connect them with the killer. However, police often do not have the time or resources to bother with busting prostitutes on the streets. Tracking high-tech hookers online is even more challenging.

"It's looked at as a victimless crime," said retired Detroit police investigator Tom Berry. "You have a lot of women trying to put their way through college and feed their families and they get hooked up with these websites."

It becomes a police issue if these women are stalked, attacked or even killed after strangers who have contacted them online cross the line.

"They risk their lives in doing that. It's just a way of life. They think they are smarter than the next guy, and they're not," Berry said.

The women are meeting men who have contacted them based on a profile picture. Unlike traditional dating websites, at SeekingArrangment.com there is some expectation that the man will be satisfied on some level. He is paying up. He wants something and it's not to be buddies.

"Let's use some common sense here, he's not going for just dinner. He is expecting something else," Berry said.

The website creator Brandon Wade makes his money when the so-called sugar daddy signs up to pay monthly membership to view the local women.

"So I would say I am a pimp of some of the great concepts that SeekengArrangement.com stands for," Wade said.

Wade is quick to point out the website prohibits prostitution and has put other security measures in place to make sure things stay on the up and up.

"You're going to have people who try to misuse the system. So, there are a lot of escorts who try to sign up and we kick off plenty of them, hundreds of them every week," he said.

Chrissy said she is not one of those women who is an escort. She is just trying to find a creative way to pay the bills.

"I don't get too attached to it. I just did it for fun," she said.

Police agencies have tried to shut down Wade's site, calling it just a front for prostitution. So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful.

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