MSU study: Prostitution goes online & pimps are thriving

EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – It’s been called the world’s oldest profession and now it is using the most modern technology.

In a groundbreaking study, criminologists from Michigan State University and Loyola University Chicago interviewed 71 pimps in Atlanta and Chicago who used online tools to advertise.

The interviewers wanted to know how the pimps made marketing decisions based upon police enforcement of online prostitution.

Sound strange? Pimps using online technologies is more common than many people realize and it is lucrative.

The pimps who participated in the study claimed to have average incomes of $75,000, with more than one-third of those responding making at least $100,000.

“We found that pimps are exploiting the anonymity that new technology and websites allow,” said Mary Finn, lead author of the study and director of MSU’s School of Criminal Justice.

The findings, published in the journal Victims & Offenders, show that pimps are using sites such as Craigslist and Backpage to advertise services.

Since those sites are also monitored by law enforcement the pimps use creative language, symbols and photos to promote their services and communicate with customers.

The pimps were recruited through ads placed on Backpage and paid $60 per interview.

Faced with limited resources and personnel it’s a struggle for police to attack prostitution.

Finn said law enforcement generally is targeting cases involving exploitation, such as sex trafficking and minors.

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