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tv   Online Pimps Exposed - Panorama  BBC News  November 12, 2021 3:30am-4:00am GMT

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now on bbc news, it's time for panorama. on panorama tonight... here inside. the women being sold for sex. in total, we are talking 1,000 pounds? and the website cashing in from pimps. we reveal how some women are being exploited. i think they are pimping women. and we expose a suspected
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sex trafficker using the site. what i want in the apartment is one girl per apartment, i don't care whether it is two beds, the bedroom's locked. if an individual is collected from dublin, he drives to belfast... he puts into a house... trafficking for the purpose of exploitation. _ what are the penalties for that? life. we are on this morning to do a safeguarding welfare visit linked to basically three or four strands of sex trafficking intelligence. it's early morning, and lancashire police are getting ready to visit a suspected brothel.
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i , the back, mate, please. the rest of us at the front. let's get the address secure. we will take it from there. 0k, happy? any questions? perfect. let's go. selling sex is legal in the uk. but pimping and sex trafficking are against the law. police! 0pen open the door, please. just had some concerns about the address, mate, around prostitution and stuff like that. there's just one woman in the house. she says the man downstairs is her boyfriend. this is about
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prostitution, pal. yeah, it is, mate, it is. it is, it's about prostitution, i can see the messages. you are under arrest. for controlling prostitution. it is on yourform, you don't have to say anything. but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. you havejust shown me your phone, it has got messages around prostitution. the messages suggest the man's a pimp. he brought his phone down. he has unlocked the phone, we have gone straight to the messages and they are absolutely littered on a daily basis from now back to august with sexual services being organised, prices being organised. so it's 180 for one hour. you get kissing, massage and sex in different positions. what's his role in this, do you think? at the minute, from
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the evidence you have seen? he is controlling her prostitution, he's the pimp, in complete control. the suspected pimp has been using a website to advertise women. it's called vivastreet. it is probably an interesting one. they are all going to his phone so he will be the one placing the ads. he's the person in control of the account on vivastreet? absolutely. the ads are made by this phone, it's his phone, he's placing the adverts. he is a valued customer. and on offer there where you can get 50% off so that is the person, he's got to ring at vivastreet, "make sure you renew by the following weekend."
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it's interesting that vivastreet are messaging him trying to get him to place more ads. absolutely. the more money they make, the better, isn't it? vivastreet is an online classified ads site. you can advertise most things here for free. you can sell sex too, but ads cost about 50 pounds a week. it's where vivastreet makes most of its money. it is very common knowledge now that if you need sexual services, vivastreet is the place that you will find it. you can arrange what you want, what you want the girl to look like. it's like a takeaway menu. how big a part do vivastreet play in that market? massive.
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there isn't a job we haven't done that's not vivastreet. really? every single job is vivastreet, they advertise over vivastreet. vivastreet is one of the biggest online sites advertising sex. every night, it has around 12,000 women for sale. i'm just going to select �*escort and massages' and type in birmingham, and, look, there's 460 results. this isjust one night in one city. virtually all these ads
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are women selling sex for cash. and this is what it looks like up close. a woman at this property in birmingham has been advertised on vivastreet. men queue up outside the door. i'm just hiding in the back of the van. in half an hour, at least five or six men have entered that property. business is good, but who's benefiting? vivastreet is owned by a french businessman, yannick pons. he's made millions from the sex ads. his website�*s name
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comes up time and time again in pinging and sex trafficking cases. also on your phone is a screenshot. a female on vivastreet. did you screenshot that image? yes. this sex trafficker spent £25,000 on ads on vivastreet. he was even given his own personal account manager. she had been asked how she advertised her services and she says vivastreet only. she's been asked who set up her website profile, and her answer was you. vivastreet is a magnet for sex traffickers and that's because vivastreet makes it so quick and so easy
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to advertise women to sex buyers. the website has the effect of concentrating and centralising demand from men across the country who are willing to sexually exploit women. now, that is the customer base for traffickers, so of course sex traffickers are going to go there. it's an absolute gift to them. vivastreet says "dividing as a platform is our top priority." and that it is "committed to eradicating any potential exploitation." it has, "a range of stringent measures in place to detect "criminality and this year more than 29,000 ads "have been rejected." it says its automated messages are not targeted to specific users. but there are warning signs that pimps are placing
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some of the adverts, like the same phone number being used for different women. we've pulled some of the data from vivastreet�*s website, and it's pretty alarming. the data shows how many ads use the same phone number. 0ne number is used for 78 different adverts. there are other warning signs too. we can also see multiple ads that are using the same words and phrases, they've even got the same spelling mistakes. these are some of the classic signs that many of the women in these ads are being managed and controlled.
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this ad is virtually identical to five others on vivastreet. they all use the same phrase, "i like generous gentlemen." we want to find out who's managing these women, so we ask an undercover reporter to phone the number on the �*generous gentlemen�* advert. i�*m here now, i�*m on the road. what�*s the number? what number is it? we say we�*re planning a party and want to see what women are available. hello. it�*s illegal to manage a brothel. 0k, come. come here inside.
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hello. one of the women appears to be in charge. 0k. how much? for two hours? so in total, we�*re talking £1,000? 0k. she says the women will do whatever we want. that is all in the price? 0k.
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the women later told us they work for themselves and don�*t have a pimp. but one of them looks a lot younger than the others. that is very good. thank you very much. she seems to be following orders. thank you, bye—bye. of course. bye— bye. as our reporter leaves, the young woman gets into a waiting car in her dressing gown. when i was leaving, i saw the girls
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that i had seen undressing earlier on put on a dressing gown and basically walk out in front of me and into a waiting car. underneath, she was pretty much just in her underwear. do you think that their girls are vulnerable, exploited women? yes, i do. yes. it may be the case that they don�*t even realise the extent that they�*re being exploited. they�*re clearly under control. i don�*t think they see much of anything apart from the brothel and places they�*re taken to. in france, vivastreet shut down the personal section of its website after prosecutors launched an investigation into the company
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for alleged pimping. but in the uk, there�*s nothing to stop websites like vivastreet making money from prostitution. the website would only commit an offence if it controlled the women. how would you describe what vivastreet are doing, advertising women for sale? they are pimping women, that is what seems to me they are doing, they are enabling the pimping of women. and in lots of other cases, pimping is illegal, a criminal offence, and in this case it doesn�*t seem to be. that�*s something parliament needs to address. vivastreet says it is not pimping women. it says... and it is working with
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the home office to develop... we have been investigating one of the pimps whose business relies on vivastreet. he is based in northern ireland. what i want in the apartments, one girl per apartment, i don�*t care if it is two beds, other bedroom is locked. one girl per apartment, that is the rule. here he is talking to a sex worker about his business. he doesn�*t know he is being filmed. the girl has to be above age, not trafficked. as long as it is not three things, no problems. the police can�*t do anything. nobody can do anything. he thinks he is safe
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from the law but we have evidence he is pimping women. this is a spreadsheet from inside his business last year. it shows he was making thousands of pounds per week from sex workers. we start watching some of the properties he rents in belfast. it is not long before he turns up. we are sitting outside one of the addresses he is attached to so we know we can connect him to the house. 0ur intelligence is good. we secretly film him delivering a bedding and supplies to three
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of the properties on our list. we even spot him visiting a sex shop. then we see two new women arriving with suitcases at one of the properties. i think they are going in there. can you see where they are going? they look like they are here to work. i just tracked down the taxi driver that dropped off the girls at the property we have been watching. he said he remembered picking them up and that they had just flown into the country, and he also said that they did not look like tourists. we discovered the women are romanian.
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and within a few days, their adverts appear on vivastreet. we soon see men turning up at the door. then, the pimp shows up. the brothel is really busy this afternoon. he has been in and out of the place when they are punters in there so he can�*t deny that he knows it is a brothel. within days, the remaining women have moved to another of the properties we have been watching. once again, men visit the house throughout the day.
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it�*s not like the rest of the uk. paying for sex is illegal in northern ireland. so the men turning up here are all breaking the law. and vivastreet is helping them do it. a website selling something that it is illegal to purchase is somewhat bananas, in my view, and i am surprised that a website is capable and able to offer the sale of sexual services which it knows is illegal to purchase. they are selling sex and they are putting their price list on it. i find that extraordinary. we want to prove that sex is being sold from the pimp�*s property.
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so one of our undercover reporters phones one of the romanian women being advertised on vivastreet. she won�*t give him the house number until he gets to the street. hello? hi. what number? 0k. i will knock at the door? hello. how are you? fine, you? i'm 0k. the woman is charging £70 for half an hour. just wondering, i�*ve never done this before,
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i want to make sure, for the half, it�*s full sex? sex, bleep. it looks like this is a brothel. to be sure, we want to show there is more than one sex worker. so our undercover asks for a second woman. is that possible? that is ok, can i see her, can i meet her? she's busy now. it�*s clear that the property is being used as a brothel. 0ur reporter has seen enough and leaves. 0k, 0k. sorry. so women advertised on vivastreet are selling sex from the pimp�*s brothel. but he may also be using vivastreet to profit from an even more serious crime. sex trafficking.
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we follow him to dublin airport. he comes out with a young woman and takes her to his car. he then drives her back to an apartment block in belfast city centre. here he is on another trip to dublin airport. he has just left the airport and he is not alone. there�*s somebody there. and i can see a small fair—haired woman in the passenger seat. i think it is someone he is going to put to work in one of his brothels. he delivers the blonde
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woman to the same city centre apartment block. and within two days, we spot an advert on vivastreet. we wa nt we want to know if the pimp is trafficking women for sex. so we make an appointment with the woman in the advert. hello. hi, how are you? you are the bleep, the girl from the advert? she�*s blonde, and the evidence suggest she is probably the second woman the pimp picked up from the airport. sorry? we talked about 70 but i could not hear you on the phone. is that full sex? 0ur reporter says he has changed his mind. as he leaves he sees
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another sex worker. if an individual collects a girl from dublin airport and drives her to belfast, where she will perform sex work and he takes a cut of the money. that is trafficiking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. as long as it is within his knowledge. he�*s guilty? there is sufficient evidence he could be charged. what are the penalties for that? life. the pimp told us our allegations are all incorrect. he breaks no laws and doesn�*t exploit anyone. but we caught him driving a third woman from the airport to another one of his brothels, this time at night.
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here he is bringing her inside. once again we soon spot an advert on vivastreet. so we send in another undercover reporter. hello. this time the pimp answers the door. the sex worker we meet up stairs looks like the woman he delivered from the airport. the girl i was talking to? come on. how much? what am i going to get for that? it is more evidence of the pimp is trafficking women for sex. and is using vivastreet
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to profit from the crime. vivastreet says it works with police and charities to continuously strengthen safety measures. staff are trained so they are alert to the signs of exploitation and they know what steps to take if they suspect trafficking. and it has an independent verification system for higher risk advertisers. but our investigation has shown how easy it is for pimps to use vivastreet. is vivastreet culpable in sexual exploitation? yes. because, without that website, a mass of the exploitation stops.
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it is all about advertisement, it is all about the pimp selling them to the public. campaigners say it is time we got tougher with the online sex sites. currently in the uk we are a pimp�*s paradise. 0ur laws in this country are out of date, and i think we need to look at those laws again and actually make them fit for purpose. tonight there are thousands of women selling sex on vivastreet. no one knows how many are being trafficked and exploited by pimps.
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this is bbc news. i�*m rich preston. our top stories: it�*s friday here in the uk, the final day of the cop26 climate summit. so, is a deal on climate change in sight in these last few hours? we are urging ambition and i�*ve held meetings with quite a number of the negotiating groups and i have been told by groups, by individual parties, that they want to see ambition in the outcome of cop26. western powers at the un security council condemn the actions of belarus in the crisis over its border with poland. fw de klerk, the man who released nelson mandela from prison and ended white minority rule in south africa, has died at the age of 85. scientists say they are a


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