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Prostitutes flock to popular websites

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They are referred to in the same breath as the world's oldest profession: Call girls, concubines, ladies of the night.

We're talking, of course, about prostitutes, who certainly have come a long way from those dark and shady nights in the red-light districts.

Every metropolitan area in the country has prostitutes.

In Tucson, Arizona, the red-light district is also referred to as the "Miracle Mile."

"I used to get 10 or 12 hookers walking up and down the street," says a former Miracle Mile-area resident, who asked to remain anonymous.  "You'd get 10 or 12 hookers walking down with their Big Gulp cups. They would be stopping cars, then going around the corner and doing their business."

The Miracle Mile corridor still gets its share of prostitution-related activity, but it's nothing like it used to be, says Tucson Police Captain Clay Kidd.  "There's a new trend in prostitution now."

One that tens of thousands of people log on to every day.

"We're seeing really an explosion of prostitution now through the use of online advertisements, specifically programs like Backpage," Kidd says.

The site makes no qualms describing itself as adult entertainment, but there is no posted price or list of services.

Instead, it reads more like the personal ads.

"When you get into Backpage culture, you start to understand the language in the Backpage and you can tell whether somebody's there, where they're really advertising escort services, massage services or codes in there for prostitution," Kidd says.

Over the last three years, Kidd says call girls have absolutely flocked to the internet.

It's a much more organized kind of prostitution, he says, where groups of women travel from city to city, state to state, advertising their services online.

And when they get to Tucson, they're not going to Miracle Mile or a cheap motel to turn tricks.

They're headed to some of the nicest places in town.

"They're getting very clever now. They use pre-paid Visa cards. They're staying at the Double Tree, they're staying at the Sheratons now. They're very organized," Kidd says.

So organized, some even bring enforcers along with them.

And that's where things can get pretty ugly for the unsuspecting john.

Captain Kidd says several men have been robbed, beaten or extorted for more money after meeting in the hotel room.

In some cases, they don't even get the sex they're looking for.

Good news is, TPD has already busted several of the organized rings that bring this sort of thuggery to the community.

But the problem isn't going away.

For every pimp or prostitute taken off the streets, dozens more are eager to take their place. TPD simply doesn't have the resources to go after every case.

But they want the public to know what's going on. And they want people to think twice before soliciting sexual services through Backpage.

"You can be robbed; you can be exploited; you can be extorted for money," Kidd says.  "You don't know what's going to happen and you run the risk of being arrested and the embarrassments that are associated with that."

Backpage certainly isn't the only site where sex is advertised.

A Columbia professor recently reported 61 percent of prostitutes solicit their services on Craigslist, with Facebook not far behind.

Bottom line is, as long as there's a demand for sex -- there will always be prostitutes.

Just know you might be getting more than what you bargained for if you solicit one online.

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