A Canadian man was twice unable to enter the U.S. after a customs agent read his Scruff profile.
The 30-year-old Vancouver man, André, was going to visit his boyfriend in New Orleans in October when he was selected for secondary inspection while going through customs. An officer then took his phone and computer and demanded the passwords for several apps.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, so I gave them the password and then I sat there for at least an hour or two. I missed my flight,” André told Daily Xtra. “He came back and just started grilling me. Is this your email?’ and it was an email attached to a Craigslist account for sex ads. He asked me, Is this your account on Scruff? Is this you on BBRT?’ I was like, Yes, this is me.'” BBRT is a barebacking hook-up site.
When the officer found a description in André’s profile that said he was “looking for loads”, he assumed it meant he was a sex worker looking for “loads” of money.
“I could tell just by his nature that he had no intentions of letting me through. They were just going to keep asking me questions looking for something,” explained André. “So I asked for the interrogation to stop. I asked if I go back to Canada am I barred for life? He said no, so I accepted that offer.”
But a month later when he tried to fly to New Orleans again and brought plenty of proof to show he wasn’t a sex worker (i.e. pay stubs, letters from his employer, etc.), he was denied entry again after customs officials found it suspicious that he had cleared his browser history and wiped his phone of dating apps.
“They went through my computer. They were looking through Word documents,” he recalled. “I had nude photos of myself on my phone, and they were questioning who this person was. It was really humiliating and embarrassing.”
“They said, Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,’ and that was it. I wasn’t let through. He said I’m a suspected escort. You can’t really argue with them because you’re trapped.”
André says he has lost nearly $1,000 USD on non-refundable flight and hotel costs because of the incidents.