Toronto woman spammed with texts, calls after phone number posted on escort website
TORONTO -- A Toronto woman said she was bombarded with texts and calls from strange men in the United States after an escort website posted her phone number beside another woman's photograph.
At around 4 a.m. on Saturday, Lynn Manner received a text message from someone she didn’t know.
"It was a Texas area code and the text message was like 'hey, are you available tonight,'" she said
The mysterious texter would not tell Manner who he was and said that he got her phone number from her "profile."
She said she continued to receive calls and text messages, sometimes late at night and others in the middle of the day while she was at work. She said some of the callers thought she was joking around or "playing hard to get."
On Tuesday, she was able to convince one of the callers to tell her where her "profile" was published.
The 23-year-old’s phone number had been printed on a website called callescort.org, underneath numerous salacious photographs of a partially naked woman.
"I searched for my cell phone number and I saw these photos of this woman, obviously it wasn’t me. I guess these people were calling me expecting me to be this woman," she said. "I was really creeped out."
Manner said she then contacted police to report the incidents, calling them harassment and asking the officer to help her get the phone number off the website. According to Manner, the officer called back the following day and said there was nothing they could do because no one had committed a criminal offence. She also claimed he said he didn’t want to open the website at work.
"I didn't want to open up this website either but I had to get rid of this ad," Manner said. "I was disappointed. I felt like they didn’t really care."
Manner went to the website’s contact page and saw there was a form to fill out if you “own the phone number or the photos” and want an advertisement removed. She said that after she filled out the form, the advertisement with her phone number was taken off the website—but she still doesn’t know how it got there in the first place.
"I still feel very uncomfortable with it,” she said. “It was a little scary that people were assuming they were going to meet up with you."
Toronto Police Service Const. Rob Reid told CTV News Toronto that while he didn’t have direct knowledge of Manner's conversation, she “should have gotten better customer service.”
Reid said that in order to charge someone under the criminal code, intent to harm would have to be proven. An investigation could be pushed to the cybercrime unit, who would try to find out who posted the advertisement and when it was published online.
He also said it could be an instance where someone typed in the wrong area code or just made an error when posting the phone number.
"The Internet is the new frontier for criminality,” he said. “The Toronto Police Service as a corporate entity takes these things incredibly seriously."
"I would encourage her to try again and ask for the cybercrime unit to be notified."
CTV News Toronto has reached out to callescort.org for comment but has not received a response in time for publication.