INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2016) - An Indianapolis woman is hoping to stop a constant stream of phone calls from men who think she’s a prostitute.
The woman, who wanted to be called Tiffany, says the calls have been coming at all hours of the day and night for nearly a month. Each time she answers, the unfamiliar voices get right to the point.
“Am I available, am I having a special,” Tiffany said. “It’s bad because I’m trying to sleep or I’m at work. And I don’t know who these strange men are.”
The situation has reached the point where Tiffany has a rehearsed response to any phone call from an unknown number.
“I’m like, 'You have the wrong number, could you please stop calling this number?'” she said.
During one of the calls, Tiffany says she asked the man how he got her number. The man said it was featured on an ad for an escort on the website Backpage.com. Tiffany checked out the website and found dozens of classified ads in various categories. One of the categories included “escort” services.
“Young girls from 18 to older women up to 52 soliciting sex for all different prices in all different places,” she said.
Then, she found one of the ads that listed a phone number very similar to hers. It is one digit off.
“I realized that they’re trying to call this prostitute, and they’re dialing the wrong number,” Tiffany said. “If I’m getting all the wrong numbers, how many right numbers is she getting?”
Tiffany has avoided changing her number because it is tied to her own legitimate business. She reached out to the young woman in the escort ad.
“I called her and I asked her if she could change her number. Because she said it was a Google number and she said she could change it. But it’s been almost a month and she still hasn’t changed it.”
The site is well known to police as a portal for illegal activity. While the site contains classified ads for legal activity like yard work and contracting services, it also provides an online marketplace for lawbreakers.
“Backpage has been brought to our attention for a number of reasons,” said IMPD Lt. Richard Riddle. “Most of which are illegal activities being advertised on backpage. Prostitution, narcotics.”
Police have used the website in many investigations into prostitution and drugs.
“Our investigators have had successful prosecutions as a result of utilizing backpage to backtrack individuals,” Riddle said.
But a case like Tiffany’s is difficult to approach from a law enforcement standpoint. Calling the numbers saved on her phone could put investigators in touch with the men who sought the services of a prostitute. But without any actual transaction taking place, arrests and charges would be difficult to pursue.
Still, Riddle encouraged Tiffany to bring her case to the attention of police. There could be other avenues to explore with investigators.
Tiffany said her next step will likely be a visit to her local police station to see if anything can be done to put a stop to the unwanted calls.