MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis couple was in for the shock of their lives Monday when they learned the Cooper-Young home they had rented out on Airbnb was the center of an alleged prostitution ring.
Police made five arrests at the home after neighbors counted at least 31 men drop by since Friday.
A neighbor, who only wanted to be identified as Jeff, said he was hosting a Game of Thrones premiere party Sunday when he noticed the strange comings and goings.
“For the first few guys I thought, ‘I’m not really seeing what I’m seeing here,’ but after a while, it became pretty clear,” he said.
Police said a man named Travis Young rented the property from the owners, who neighbors said are on vacation.
He then allegedly pimped out two women: Thalia Hecht and Shanice Johnson.
WREG found ads on a number of sites featuring Hecht in provocative poses, promising “pure satisfaction” and a “relaxed time with your new favorite (cat emoji).”
She listed Cooper-Young as her location and even lists the same phone number Young used to rent the property.
“If you’re not — do your due diligence — and find out who you’re renting to, especially the short-term opportunities, I guess this is what can happen,” said neighbor Kevin Lambert.
A representative for Airbnb told WREG both renters and guests have to undergo background checks in order to use the site.
Hecht allegedly charged $80 for a half-hour and $120 for a full hour.
It added up.
Police said they found more than $4,000 cash at the home as well as drugs and a gun they say is possibly stolen.
But most disturbing of all, police also found three children in the house.
“If you’re gonna come over here and try to do some silly stuff, you’re gonna get caught,” Lambert warned. “Glad it’s all over with. We don’t need that mess on our street.”
All three children are in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
Airbnb sent us the following statement:
“Airbnb has zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we are outraged over what has reportedly taken place. We immediately removed this user from our community and we are fully supporting our host. Airbnb runs background checks on all US residents using the platform and we are urgently investigating this in coordination with local law enforcement.”
They also provided the following tips for hosts:
- Set requirements for your listing:
Each and every person on Airbnb has a detailed profile page with information about themselves. In order to sign up for Airbnb, you must provide a full name, date of birth, photo, phone number, and email address. Hosts can choose to require that their guests provide Airbnb a government ID before booking their listing, which then requires you as a host to do so as well.
- Get to know your guest in advance:
On the Airbnb platform, we have a safe and easy way for hosts to get to know their prospective guest before confirming a reservation. Our secure messaging tool lets you ask each other questions, and set clear expectations for the stay.
- Read previous community reviews:
You also have our global community to rely on. If you’re curious what a previous host’s experience has been with a potential guest, all you need to do is check their reviews ahead of time. Both guests and hosts publicly review each other and only do so after the reservation is complete, so you know the feedback is informed, unbiased, and real.