Meet the undercover brothel investigator who gets paid to be pleasured by sex workers

BEING an undercover brothel investigator who gets paid to have sex might sound like a dream job for some men.

But for Brad, a 40-year-old agent who specialises in getting first hand proof of prostitution, it's a daily reality.

Based in Sydney, Brad* works for Lyonswood Investigations and Forensics, a firm which local councils pay to look into suspected brothels.

They're looking to make sure unlicensed brothels aren't profiting from the sex trade.

Concerned residents or building owners tip councils off if a place looks suspicious, and then investigators are put on the case.

The only way to know for sure if a business posing as a "massage parlour" is really operating as a brothel is to send someone in to find out.

And it's not enough for the sleuth to know that sexual services are being offered to customers — they actually have to go through with the act themselves.

This is where Brad comes in.

He told Sun Men: "We go in there undercover as a customer asking for a massage and we don’t ask for the sexual service, because we don’t want to be seen to be [engaging in] any sort of entrapment or leading them in any way.

"More often than not, they will offer it."

Brad says the saucy offer is normally made to the client when he's alone in the massage room with the masseuse.

He said: "You will go in there and ask for a massage and they may ask, 'Is there anything else that you would like?’ and you play dumb, you say, ‘Well what do you mean?’

“They say, "Well would you like happy ending or body slide?’ and they’ll try and sell it to you."

For the uninitiated, Brad says a "body slide" is where "the masseuse will take her clothes off and just slide face-down on you, so all the way down.

"She’ll oil your body up, oil herself up and just, with bare breasts exposed, just slide up and down your chest.

"It’s considered a sexual service — it’s not what you expect when you go and ask for a sports or Swedish massage, is it?"



Prostitution laws in Australia vary by each state and territory.

New South Wales – the state in which Sydney is located and where Brad works – decriminalised prostitution in 1979.

And although brothels were also legalised in New South Wales in 1988, some activities related to sex work are still against the law.

These include using premises for prostitution which are advertised as being for massages or sauna baths.

It's also still illegal there to live off the earnings of a prostitute unless you manage a licensed brothel.

Elswhere in Australia, the legality of sex work differs depending on local government laws.

Sex work is legal in the Australian Capital Territory, where Canberra is situated, but prostitutes are required to register with a state regulator.

But in the Northern Territory sex work was completely illegalised in 2004.

Whereas private sex work and licensed brothels are permitted in Queensland.

While brothels are illegal in South Australia and engaging in sex work on the street in Victoria is also prohibited.

In Western Australia, sex work is legal but pimping and running brothels are not.

In 2016, the UN programme on HIV/AIDS estimated there were around 20,500 sex workers in the country.

Councils across Australia concerned about brothels illegally operating in their area need hard evidence to be able to shut dodgy businesses down.

And although the law around sex work varies across the country, most of the places Brad is asked to investigate are operating without a licence.

It's therefore his job to actually have some kind of sex with the targets being investigated to fully deliver on his investigation.

He said: "In most cases, we do have to go through with it simply to be able to stand up in court (if it was to proceed that far) and say ‘we obtained a sexual service’.

"It’s one thing to offer it, but to actually go through with it – well that’s just the icing on the cake."

Ultimately Brad says the task in hand is all about professionalism and making sure his client gets the information they need.


He explains: "It all sounds like fun and games and a lot of boys talk would say, ‘Oh what a great job that is’.

"But at the end of the day, you’re there on a mission, you’re there on a job.

"There’s paperwork involved, there’s work involved in preparing and after that in terms of your reporting.

“To be honest, a lot of these places, there’s nothing flash about them.

"I’ve been to some that are quite fancy, but a lot are quite average and I’ve been to some that are quite dirty and to be honest I just wanted to get out of there."

He added: "You’re not rocking up there and getting all these models throwing themselves at you, it’s not like that at all."

Brad will go into these massage parlours with a hidden camera and film the inside of the premises.

But mercifully he switches it off while he does the deed so there's never any nudity in his submitted report.

And while the money is "not bad", he says it's also "not going to make you rich".


Although councils are looking to crack down on illegal brothels, sometimes Brad's tasked with looking into an individual woman.

This is where things can end up getting a little bit more personal.

He says: "A male client will contact us to say, ‘I suspect my wife/girlfriend/partner is working in a brothel'."

At that point, it's Brad's job to carefully observe them and make sure he can definitively identify the right woman.

And then it's a matter of putting her to the test.

After having sex with one client's female partner in a brothel, Brad remembers: "He was crying on the phone and asking me, ‘What should I do now? Should I leave her?’”

“I said, ‘That’s a matter for you, my job was just to get the evidence.'"

But does he ever feel bad about having sexual relations with his client's female partner?

Brad says: “That’s the job, that’s what he’s paying you to do – so you don’t feel bad about it.”


Lyonswood's Managing Director Lachlan Jarvis says his firm used to only employ one undercover sex investigator.

But as business boomed, the agency decided to take on more brothel busters by advertising the job back in 2012.

Lachlan told Sun Online: "We had applicants from all over the world — including a lot from Finland, for some reason.

"We suspected it may have been a very cold winter there or something and they were all stuck inside.

“To everyone, it always sounds very unusual and interesting and racy — which it is I guess — but when you actually do the work, you’ve got to go and do your homework afterwards, which is write quite a detailed report.

"So while it is a laugh, that’s for sure, it is also quite serious."

And Lachlan says the role can actually be quite physically demanding, as well as being serious.

He said: "We did one 15 years ago where for some reason the council wanted to get a whole bunch of them closed in a particular council area so it was something like 20 attendances in a couple of weeks or something our guy had to make.


In Great Britain, prostitution itself is completely legal.

But a lot of acts associated with prostitution are not.

These include soliciting in a public place, owning or running a brothel, and kerb crawling (soliciting in the streets).

Pimping is also against the law.

Northern Ireland, which used to have similar laws on prostitution to the rest of the UK, outalwed paying for sex in 2015.

Although the age of consent in the UK is 16, it's illegal to pay for sex with someone under the age of 18.

Laws on sex work in the UK aren't always strictly enforced and some police have been accused of turning a blind eye to certain brothels.

In 2015, the Office for National Statistics estimated there were around 72,800 sex workers in the UK.

Of those, 88 per cent were women, 6 per cent were men and four per cent were transgender.

"So that was one of the more superhuman feats of strength that we’ve seen here."

While prostitution is legal in the UK, running a brothel is not.

Earlier this year, a married couple were fined for running a £3.8million high end brothel empire in Greater Manchester.


*"Brad" is not the investigator's real name — Lyonswood agreed to let us speak with one of its brothel investigators on the condition of anonymity. 


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