Paris police dismantle Airbnb prostitution ring

Three men have been arrested in Paris for running a prostitution ring in one of the capital’s most upmarket neighbourhoods.

Paris police dismantle Airbnb prostitution ring
File photo of a Paris apartment: robertcrum/Depositphotos

Police placed three men under formal investigation on Friday for their roles in pimping out women for sex work in several apartments.

Some of the apartments were rented out through accommodation-sharing site Airbnb, France Info reported, citing a police source.

The men were arrested in late November after the BRP — the arm of the French police force dedicated to tackling crimes of pimping — arrested another man, who had been a client of the women.

While selling sex is legal, soliciting sex or running a brothel has been illegal in France for decades, and paying for it was criminalized in spring 2016.

The man's arrest led investigators to the three men, aged between 30 and 42, who pimped out women in an apartment in the affluent eighth arrondissement and three Airbnb properties. The key suspect, a 30-year-old, has a previous conviction for procurement.

He took 50 percent of the money the women earned, Le Parisien wrote, allowing him to make €100,000 over the course of three months. Ten sex workers worked in one of the apartments, selling sexual services for between €200 and €300, and one of the women told police she had paid the men €15,000 since the summer.

Police also found illegal drugs when they carried out a search of the apartments.

Clients of sex workers can be fined up to €1,500 for paying for sex, which increases to up to €3,750 for repeat offenders, though the measure introduced last year has been criticized by some of those working in the sex industry.


Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.