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Dating for Dollars: Using web site could land you in jail on your first date

CREATED Feb 14, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - It's an online dating web site that could land you in jail after your first date.

It's natural for different cities to have different laws, but if you go on a first date in Brookfield or Oak Creek after using a new, popular web site, you could be breaking the law.

"You are taking a risk.  You are always taking a risk," explained Chief John Edwards of the Oak Creek Police Department. 

His stands among dozens of dating sites, all with a different gimmick.

Whatsyourprice.com offers dating with an interesting twist.

"If a guy likes me, he gives me an offer to go on a date.  If I like his profile and his offer, I say yes, and get paid to go on a first date with him," said a woman on a whatsyourprice.com commercial.

"It just saves a lot of time, because - I'm sorry - but if you are going to pay someone $100 to go on a date, they are going to be a lot more serious than they would if they paid a $30 membership to date $100 different girls on match.com," said Jessica, a member of whatsyourprice.com.

When the generous user - the person willing to pay for the first date - discovers the attractive user - those who accept money for the date - the generous user makes the bid.

"You can offer her $80," said Wade. 

"She could come back and say 'That's not enough.  I would need $100.'  You could then counter that with 'How about $90?' "

The money is the exchanged during the date.

"Absolutely, I would (pay the $100)," said Eric, another member of the web site.

"They would never give me the chance of day otherwise."

The site is fairly new, about two years old, but it is growing in popularity.

It has more than 750,000 members nationwide, with 1,200 in the Milwaukee area.

"With the exchange of money, that's where the line is real blurry, but I make sure there is a clear concise line," explained Jessica.

Whatsyourprice.com's users are supposed to exchange money for a first date, not money for sex.

"We make that very clear that you're not allowed to have sex on the first date," said Brandon Wade, the owner of whatsyourprice.com.

"You're not even supposed to expect that."

The concern over the site goes beyond prostitution.

In some cities, police say a first date using the site is illegal, even without sex.

"The site is like a dating auction that you see at charity auctions," retorted Wade.  "We just took that concept online."

"That's like comparing apples to oranges," said Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards.

He says there's nothing charitable about the site.

"That's a completely different thing.  That's a rationalization for what it is."

In his jurisdiction, it's illegal.

In Oak Creek, if you're going to go on a date in exchange for money, you have to go to City Hall to buy an escort license, fill out a form and submit to a background check before you can be approved.

"You are being paid for your time.  You need a license in the City of Oak Creek for that, and we will arrest you if you don't."

The web site makes it very clear: no escorts allowed.

"We make a huge distinction between what we do here versus an escort service," claimed Wade.

"In this case, it's really about finding love."

Chief Edwards says it's not that he's not a romantic, but he believes in the law.

The law in Oak Creek says no dates, even first dates, in exchange for money.

"If you are the person that's being paid, that's who we arrest."

Oak Creek adopted its escort policy from Brookfield, so a major concern if you use this site to go on first dates in those cities.

What's the punishment if you're caught without a license?

You'll get a citation and have to pay $505.

It won't be a prostitution arrest.  This ordinance is in place to try and keep prostitutes out of their cities alltogether.