New York landlord caught offering rent-free accommodation in exchange for sex

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The man was confronted by an undercover reporter posing as a prospective tenant

World | The Independent

A New York man looking to take advantage of the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been caught offering accommodation for sexual favours — a week after the Justice Department said it would divert resources to investigate such schemes.

The Long Island man, using the name ‘Eddie’, placed an ad on Craiglist offering a “Room Share for Submissive Female.”

The ad details the arrangement: “If you are a submissive female 20-50 years old and into the SM lifestyle on a moderate to extreme level and looking for a safe place to stay … and wanting to barter session/playtime once per week in lieu of rent we should talk.”

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It continues: “During these hard times Covid-19 has thrown many in a tail spin. But if you don’t mind the situation for a simple safe clean environment why not.”

Alycia Powers, a producer for Inside Edition, responded to the ad, posing as a potential tenant.

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“Eddie” texted back saying that he wanted to meet first at a local motel, giving Ms Powers very specific instructions that left little doubt as to what the “arrangement” would entail.

“He says to wear my hair down, no jewellery, and minimal makeup. And then meet him in the room, undress and put on a pair of stilettos he got me,” Ms Powers reported.

Agreeing to meet him at a Days Inn on Long Island, Ms Powers drove to the location with a hidden camera and small team of producers.

Refusing to meet him at the room for her own safety, she asked ‘Eddie’ to meet her by her car. When he did the crew identified themselves and asked why he was trying to take advantage of women during a pandemic.

‘Eddie’ denied the arrangement was for sex and said: “She had the choice to take up on the offer.”

A man looking to take advantage of economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic posted a 'sex-for-rent' ad on Craigslist (Inside Edition)

He later called Ms Powers to apologise, saying he was “truly sorry” and that he was a really “a decent guy.”

In April, a Buzzfeed News investigation into sex-for-rent schemes reported Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency, recorded a three-fold increase in sexual harassment complaints related to housing since the beginning of lockdown measures.

Sheryl Ring, the legal director at Open Communities, said: “Since this started, they [landlords] have been taking advantage of the financial hardships many of their tenants have in order to coerce their tenants into a sex-for-rent agreement — which is absolutely illegal.”

“We’ve heard some landlords are attempting to use the situation where a tenant falls behind to pressure a tenant into exchanging sex for rent,” she added.

A week ago, the Justice Department took action, with US attorneys directed to “divert all necessary resources” to investigating sex-for-rent schemes.

Attorney General William Bar sent a memo to attorneys to prioritise cases where landlords are alleged to offer deals on housing in exchange for sexual favours.

“Such behaviour is despicable and it is illegal,” Mr Barr wrote in the memo. “This behaviour is not tolerated in normal times, and certainly will not be tolerated now.”

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