Thai Police on Friday, August 18th, announced a successful apprehension of an American-Thai couple, believed to have been operating what the authorities said was the largest online escort service and sex agency website in Thailand, tailor-made for a foreign clientele.
In a press briefing organized by Bangkok Police and the Immigration Bureau and Information Technology Crime Suppression Centre, Deputy Immigration Bureau Chief Pol Maj Gen. Panthana Nuchanart stated that the website was ranked first on Google and had nearly 430,000 visits per month.
The website was found to have specifically catered to foreign customers, with 80 prostitutes working for the site, covering various locations in Thailand including Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin.
The service providers varied from women, transgender people, and groups of sex workers working in pairs, providing a wide range of prostitution-related offerings featured on the site.
The website also displayed detailed descriptions of each sex worker, such as their photographs, as well as “customer reviews,” which appeared to be from English-speaking foreigners, giving the sex workers their compliments and recommendations.
The Pattaya News notes that at the time of reporting, this website is still online, while the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society is reportedly attempting to bring it down. The Pattaya News also decided not to name the website due to the pending legal action on the owners of the escort service.
The police investigation into the website initially began following reports about certain individuals being inebriated and robbed by sex workers working for this online facility, as stated by Pol Maj Gen Panthana.
On August 13th at 5 AM, the Thai police arrested the alleged administrator of the website, a 34-year-old Thai woman identified only as Ms. Kanya, right after her flight had just landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport from overseas.
Subsequently, police stormed a luxury villa in the Hua Hin area of the western province of Prachuap Khiri Khan and arrested a 48-year-old American national, who was reported to be Ms. Kanya’s husband, identified only as Mr. Brad.
Pol Maj Gen Panthana stated that they believed Mr. Brad is the owner of the website which provided extensive prostitution for hire services in the Kingdom.
Seized from the two were a pool villa which was estimated to be worth 15 million baht, a 3.5-million-baht Mercedes-Benz C200 coupé, a 1.8-million-baht Honda CRV car, four computers and various bank accounts containing 9 million baht. The total confiscated assets were valued at over 40 million baht.
Pol Maj Gen Panthana mentioned that Ms. Kanya was responsible for coordinating and making appointments between the prostitutes and the clients, while receiving around 40% share of the payments.
He added the operators of the website used a range of communication channels, which encompassed Apple iPhones, WhatsApp connections, mobile phone numbers, landline connections, and offered comprehensive payment options including international credit cards and PayPal services.
It was also understood that there are more suspects who assist in operating the site hiding in Bangkok and outside Thailand.
The authorities emphasized that this illicit activity conducted by foreigners within the Kingdom casts the country in an unfavorable perception, thus making its suppression a top priority for the Royal Thai Police (RTP).
They said at a briefing that the RTP will extend its effort beyond the borders to bring down the network involved in this unlawful activity while working to enforce the website’s closure.
In the meantime, the detained couple is charged with prostitution offenses, encompassing acts such as providing services that cater to the ‘desires of others,’ involvement in procuring, enticing, or coercing individuals for indecent purposes, regardless of consent, as well as aiding, facilitating, or safeguarding the operation of prostitution by others.