The Sitter Cafe Blog

A Conversation About Child Care
and the common challenges faced by parents

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Heidi Fleiss of Houston" Uses Craig's List
To Lure Families Seeking Nannies

compiled by Michael A. Gerard

After being arrested and charged as the head of a prostitution ring, the "HEIDI FLEISS of HOUSTON" - free on bail, is now Using Craig's List to solicit nannies and parents for her new career: Child Care Nanny Agency Recruiter.

Two weeks ago a woman and her husband were arrested for running the largest prostitution ring ever known in Houston. The police searched their home and found $40,000 in cash, several silver and gold bars and confiscated their two expensive vehicles. They have two little girls ages 1 and 3.

The day following the arrest a nanny applied at a local nanny agency and said her employer was having financial problems and that she was let go just the day before - she provided a reference name - and it was the same name that was being reported in the news in connection with the prostitution ring.


You see, about a week earlier the agency had run an ad on Craig's List to hire administrative help for the office. A woman responded with a very impressive resume - Masters Degree in Psychology, educated in England, 10 years of recruiting, etc. The agency didn't immediately put two and two together and scheduled an interview to meet her at their offices. The next morning her name rang a bell and they checked the internet and found several news stories that confirmed: this was the person that the Houston media was referring to as the Houston "Heidi Fleiss". They cancelled the interview.

Yesterday, one of the agency's employees was checking Craig's List for people that were advertising themselves as nannies and found an ad for a "Nanny Recruiter" who they'd never heard of before. Like all established, reputable agencies, they tend to know the legitimate competition in the area. They couldn't figure out who it could be - and they've been in business in Houston for decades. They were very curious because many of the words in the AD were obviously taken from this agencies website. They did a reverse phone look-up and found that it was this same woman who had tried to apply at their office.

The "Houston Madam" is now recruiting child care providers on Craig's List. That same day the major TV channels and one newspaper ran the story.

See a video of the story as reported on April 9.

The Turbivilles, who use Craig's List as their marketing tool for prostitutes and nannies, do so because it's free or cheap and without regulation or monitoring. They don't really care what service they broker - they just want to do it on the cheap, with no interference from outside influences like trade organizations, law enforcement or government. Their attitude appears to that because they are 'hard-working, family oriented people' that they are above the law. It's a pervasive attitude among many in our society that says as long as you don't get caught, there's nothing wrong with purposely doing what is illegal.


Smart parents and care providers have always known that using free bulletin board web sites like is dangerous and extremely risky. As if the murder of Katherine Ann Olson (who responded to a Craig's List Ad for a Nanny) wasn't enough of a wake up call, we can now confirm that parents are putting their children at serious risk when they turn to unregistered, unaffiliated "nanny agencies".

Rules To Live By:

  • Never use a website that does not provide some type of ID Verification of the Parents or Agency
  • Never use a website site that does not allow you to keep all of your personal information (including your email address) private
  • Always check and verify references before agreeing to meet anyone in person who you found "on the internet"
  • Always conduct a background check and investigation before hiring someone to watch your children
  • Verify the legitimacy of a nanny agency by visiting the International Nanny Association (INA) website.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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