Feds Say Delray Man Targeted Foster Children as Recruits in Sex-Trafficking Scheme

Investigators say Foster recruited vulnerable girls and young women to work as strippers and escorts.
Investigators say Foster recruited vulnerable girls and young women to work as strippers and escorts. Photo by Timothy Tolle / Flickr
Offering fancy clothes and luxury cars as bait to recruit vulnerable girls into years of prostitution, William Foster used South Florida as a base for an expansive sex-trafficking operation for at least 15 years, federal agents alleged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in the Southern District of Florida.

According to victims, including one who was recruited at the age of 17 at the Miami strip club Gold Rush, Foster employed five to 15 women as erotic dancers or prostitutes at any given time. He would offer his victims the taste of a ritzy lifestyle as part of his recruitment strategy, which included allowing the girls to drive Ferraris and Corvettes, according to the federal complaint. Foster also covered the costs of boob jobs, rib removals, and butt implants for women working for him; he referred to the surgeries as "investments."

New Times was unable to reach Foster by phone, and he did not respond to an email requesting comment earlier today.

The FBI opened an investigation into Foster in 2017 when two women came forward alleging he had recruited them as minors and forced them into prostitution. But it wasn't until this past September — when a third victim mentioned Foster's name after calling a national sex-trafficking hotline for help — that federal agents blew the lid on his scheme.

The feds say Foster, age 48, went out of his way to target abused girls and young women as potential recruits. One of the victims — referred to as Victim 1 in the complaint — told FBI investigators that Foster brought her into the fold right out of high school in 2007, while she was in foster care. Because she was a minor at the time, Foster provided her with a fake ID before moving her out of state to engage in prostitution. (She also alleges he had sex with her while she was a minor.) Foster eventually instructed her to scout for new recruits at "group homes, shelters, and exotic dance venues, including low-end venues where the young women may have violent pimps," according to the criminal complaint.

At his three Delray Beach homes, Foster was reportedly a paranoid tyrant. Investigators found he constantly monitored emails, texts, social media, and even the internet search history of the girls and young women living with and working for him to ensure they weren't pocketing any money or planning an escape. He is accused of violently attacking women who attempted to leave, including Victim 1 and Victim 2, and even confiscating Victim 1's passport and social security card. Foster went as far as to request that the women put him on speakerphone while performing sexual acts on clients, according to Victim 1 and Victim 2.

The FBI says Foster got rich off exploiting his victims, who brought in thousands of dollars a night. He strung them along with promises he was investing their earnings into businesses for early retirement, according to the complaint. In reality, investigators found only two entities tied to him: a clothing line registered under a North Miami address and the nonprofit Foster's Care — for victims of sex trafficking.

Foster's Care purported to offer "medical treatment, mental and physical therapy, financial training, and relocation assistance" to "survivors of commercial sexual exploitation." It's unclear if the organization, which claims on its website to have served more than 140 women, was linked to Foster's alleged scheme.

According to the FBI, Foster's sex-trafficking operation quickly grew beyond state lines. Strip clubs and yachts in West Palm Beach and Miami, where the women were forced to entertain clients, turned into trips to Nevada, New York, and Michigan. In September, as Hurricane Dorian approached, Foster ordered several girls to travel to Detroit, where they could make more money. It was during this trip that a third woman — referred to as Victim 3 in the complaint — was pressured into engaging in sex for money and was told she couldn't leave until the group met its "financial goal." Victim 3, a recovering heroin addict, called the National Human Trafficking Hotline and asked to be rescued.

This past Wednesday, federal law enforcement raided three Delray Beach homes linked to Foster. He appeared in court yesterday to face several federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. According to the Palm Beach Post, he is scheduled to return to court today to see if he can post bond while his criminal case continues. 
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