CLEVELAND -- Is it a modern day form of the world's oldest profession or simply an agreement between consenting adults?
People are posting ads on Craigslist offering up "free rent," but what do you have to do to get that rent? Is it really free, or is it a crime?
"Well, you're a hell of a lot hotter than I ever expected," said a man meeting an undercover TV producer with Gannett.
This guy, and many others like him nationwide, are placing ads on Craigslist trolling for female roommates, but with some specific requirements.
"Well, like, I put on there, I'm looking for a roommate with benefits."
The benefit to the woman? Free rent. The benefit to these guys? Sex.
"What I was actually looking for was for someone to sleep with me in my bed," said another guy placing an ad.
A Gannett producer responded to these ads and these guys were eager to get to know her.
"All I'm looking for is a little companionship," said a third man, who placed an ad. The producer replies, "What exactly does that entail?" "Well, I mean, if you are living here, we are going to get to know one another," says the man.
"Would you expect it to turn into sex? I know you said that in the emails," asked the producer. "Yeah," the guy replies.
His emails said he is hoping for sex 1 to 3 times a week.
These ads are popping up coast to coast.
Here in the Cleveland, we found one ad posted just last week, offering a spare room, and no bills. You just have to be a "roomie with benefits."
Another in Cleveland offered a houseshare for a woman who must love sex. We even found a house in the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus listings. It's out of Florida. The lister says it's a nice home, just north of Tampa, with a heated pool. In this listing "friends with benefits" is clearly spelled out.
According to law professor and former federal prosecutor Dean Valore, posting ads like this could qualify as solicitation.
"Prostitution under the Ohio Revised Code is the solicitation of sexual acts for hire. And again, the definitive portion is "for hire." And what is considered for "hire?
"It doesn't have to be necessarily have to be an exchange of cash for the sex act. It could be something else of pecuniary or monetary value like free rent," Valore says.
When reporters confronted some of these guys about their ads, one quickly bailed, but the others?
"How old are you?" asked the producer and reporter .
"Were you honest about your age?"
"No. Who am I going to meet at 50?" said the man.
Age may not be his only problem, as state records show he's a convicted stalker.
Police tell us they see ads like these as dangerous hot spots for runaways who might not have anywhere else to go, and say anytime you offer something of value in exchange for sex, whether it is free rent, drugs, or even expensive gifts, it is considered prostitution and both parties can be charged.