Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Backpage escort ad wrongly lists Thonotosassa school secretary's number

TAMPA -— The calls and text messages came in at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. and just about every hour in between.

Related News/Archive

Are you up this late?

If your pics real, I'd like to get an hour appointment

Julia, let me know when, where. I'm downtown. My phone's about to die so hurry.

Hi, I saw your post. I'm interested. I'm in town for a business trip and I'm wondering if you're available.

At first, Nancy Caldwell, 60, a secretary at Thonotosassa Elementary School, figured the callers had a wrong number.

But in late July when the calls didn't stop, she finally confronted one of them.

"Where'd you get this number?" she asked.

"Uh," the man on the other end said, "you're on Backpage."

"And I had no idea what Backpage was," Caldwell said. "I just stopped right there." is a website with classified advertising, including ads for adult services and escorts. The site has come under fire recently, authorities say, for facilitating human trafficking and child prostitution.

When Caldwell learned the nature of and that her number was on the site, she called T-Mobile and asked it to change her number. The company told her she needed a police report. Meanwhile, the calls and texts kept coming.

"It's very disruptive, but it's very disturbing," Caldwell said. "I guess this poor Julia gal isn't getting any business."

• • •

Caldwell said most of the unwanted calls came from the 801 area code, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Search for "Julia" in the Salt Lake City section of, and a single ad comes up.

"I'm only in town for a short amount of time and I'm looking for someone to spend it with," the ad read. "Like no other woman you have met before... WARNING you may become ADDICTED! Lol"

The ad encouraged interested parties to contact Julia on her personal line, an 813 number that led to Caldwell.

The men calling and texting Caldwell's cellphone wanted to know if Julia's photos were real.

They're not. An Internet search shows the photos weren't even of the same woman. One was of a dress model, another was of a porn star and a third was of award-winning British soap opera actress Helen Flanagan.

In the first week of August, the ad was updated. The description proclaimed Julia "Best in Utah" with "100% REAL PICS!!! 100%INDEPENDENT and ALWAYS AVAILABLE!!!"

New photos were added that could also be found on escort ads in Miami, New York City, Las Vegas and elsewhere.

But the phone number remained the same.

• • •

On Aug. 10, according to a timestamp on, the ad was updated again. This time, one digit on the number for Julia's "personal line" was changed. An 8 became a 0.

A Web search for that number turns up a list of links for escort services, all leading back to Utah. There are database sites with a profile for a woman named "Kat" who uses the same photos as the original ad.

Julia, or Kat, has a Google Voice account that forwards callers to an online voicemail box. She did not respond to calls from the Tampa Bay Times.

• • •

After being contacted by the Times, T-Mobile quickly moved to change Caldwell's phone number — also an inconvenient solution.

This number is on emergency contact lists with the elementary school, she says, and Caldwell would rather just stop the unwanted calls.

The terms of use posted on bans "transmitting any information ... that is unlawful, false, misleading, harmful, threatening, abusive, invasive of another's privacy."'s attorney and most vocal supporter, Liz McDougall, said Caldwell's situation is "disturbing" and said that people like Caldwell can report problems to the company.

The site has a way of searching for specific phone numbers and blocking ads, McDougall said, and Backpage will work with law enforcement in case there are any signs of illegal activity.

"That's not to say, unfortunately, that we'll get every ad with that number," she said. "That kind of problem happens across the Internet all the time."

Caldwell is still getting calls regularly from the 801 area code. She keeps a log of the calls now, and when they come in she just tries to ignore her phone.

She can't imagine that anyone is trying to harass her on purpose. "Julia" just must have made an unfortunate typo.

"It's wild," she said. "I just got lucky, I guess."

Backpage escort ad wrongly lists Thonotosassa school secretary's number 08/25/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 25, 2013 9:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  2. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  3. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  4. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  5. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop


    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.