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Bowie Lam Po-yee, who runs an organization called Teen’s Key that provides outreach for these girls, says that it’s common for one girl to find an ad she likes, and then copy it—with just minor adjustments.Photo: Paul Wong/Shutterstock Lam estimates that there are some 2,500 compensated daters in the city, drawing on the organization’s records during outreach work.The police have been slow to catch on to these girls now that they’ve taken refuge online—from July 2015 until July this year, the force has only seen 12 cases of compensated dating.The Macau native ditched her agent quickly after realizing that she could negotiate on her own through a forum and Whats App.She’s since developed what she calls a “menu” for clients, which, for example, says she’ll have sex twice in one hour for an extra $130 tacked on—and she doesn’t have to give any of that money away.Last year, the Rock Mountain task force recovered 20 children out of 149 nationwide in the annual sweep.

The FBI estimates up to 2,000 underage children are sexually exploited every year.

She copied an ad from a forum that she thought fit her—she only changed her name, age, body measurements, and contact information.

The next step is contacting the compensated dater from her post on the forum: girls mostly use Whats App and a Chinese chat app called We Chat to negotiate with their clients over the phone, specifying services, price, and location.

For the women in Hong Kong’s one-room brothels though—mostly prostitutes who emigrate from the Chinese mainland—where a client just shows up, she says the sex workers don’t have the luxury of choice. Independence doesn’t always mean safety, though: While Laura has evaded any brushes with violence, Kate’s been raped by a client.

As for the legality of the online forums, Lam says the police have closed them before—only to see a new one open just weeks later.

The sweep was part of a nationwide operation that happens each year to bust sex trafficking rings known as Operation Cross Country.