It’s a treat that many people look forward to and view as a luxury: a relaxing massage to relax those tired muscles.
However, while many massage parlors are long-standing businesses with legitimate clientele, some massage parlors have become targets of investigations due to additional activity that sometimes occurs behind closed doors.
In June, a Menlo Park because of alleged bribes to county officials. Bao Ling Qi plead no contest to repeated attempts to offer bribes to county officials, but what she insisted were traditional Chinese cultural customs to offer gifts.
In San Carlos, residents’ complaints regarding Oriental Massage’s practices of Shu Yan Zhang, 49, for allegedly soliciting for prostitution. Three separate arrests for prostitution were made in the last two years at the facility.
In Millbrae, the Police Department after sending in undercover officers to solicit sex in August 2011. Officers began investigating Life Reflection and Acupressure Help Center after receiving complaints from residents on the frequency of men patronizing the businesses.
The Redwood City city council made a formal recommendation to within city boundaries.
According to San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, such establishments can be easily identified by the contents of their advertisements.
There are many websites and publications dedicated to discussions of erotic massage parlors. When an establishment advertises on such websites, especially in a way that is “enticing," that should be a tip-off that the massage parlor likely offers other services, says Horsley, who served as San Mateo County Sheriff in the 1990s.
Horsley has instructed his staff to take down reports from constituents of suspected erotic massage parlors.
“Constituents are our eyes and ears,” he said.
When a tip is credible, that information is passed to authorities to investigate.
Massage therapy experts say that legitimate massage parlors should ensure that they send the right signals to clients to ensure they are aware that a massage is all they are getting.
Melanie Marden of High Maintenance Mobile spa told Inside Edition that she insists on keeping clients covered up during massages. In addition, she instructs her therapists to leave the room if clients begin to get the wrong idea.
For those who have no issue with erotic massages, Horsely added that many masseuses are human trafficking victims who are brought to perform such acts against their will.
“We’re trying to get it out to the public that massage parlors are a prime target not just for prostitution but also for human trafficking.”