Students seeking to pay off their debts were lured into "casting couch" sex sessions where a crime boss allegedly raped them after they applied to join his escort agency, say police.
The 37-year-old is alleged by police to have raped eight women whom he recruited through online adverts with the offer of work with his escort agency.
However, police claim that when the women turned up for their interviews, he demanded that they have sex with him to establish “if they were good enough for his business.”
The recruits were said by police to be students or vulnerable women from the UK and abroad who were seeking to pay off debts but did not necessarily realise that they would have to sell sex. About 300 women aged between 17 and 26 are believed to have been exploited by the vice ring.
Twelve women have been rescued following an investigation into the crime boss’ operation by a team from the Metropolitan Police’s specialist crime unit responsible for fighting modern slavery and child exploitation.
The crime boss ran his escort agency through the internet where he advertised the women to punters, taking a cut of their earnings in return for providing them with clients and drivers to take them to the meetings.
“He preys on young women and contacts them to see whether they are available to become an escort,” said Met Police sergeant Tony Killeen.
“They turn up in the belief they will be an escort but essentially he runs a casting couch exercise in which he forces them to have sex with him to ascertain whether they are good enough for his business.”
Three men aged from 28 to 46 were arrested on suspicion of offences ranging from rape, controlling prostitution, fraud, trafficking and money laundering.