Sexual assault charges against massage therapists and raids on illicit prostitution rings
camouflaged as massage parlors are raising the general public’s concerns about indulging in spa
treatments. To help you choose a safe and reliable spa, Shepherd AI has compiled a list of the
top ten things to look for in massage spa facilities.
1. Licensed Business – Don’t be afraid to ask to see the spas license if it is not already
visible. Make sure it is current as many states require annual renewals. If you receive
objections to your request, ask to cancel your appointment without penalty.
2. Licensed Massage Therapists – All states, excluding (Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma,
Vermont, and Wyoming) require therapist to be licensed in order to perform spa
treatments. To be license eligible, an individual usually has to be eighteen years or
older, pass a background check, complete a qualifying educational program, pass a
national examination, and maintain a liability insurance policy. These criteria help to
ensure qualified professionals are providing safe and ethical services. If you receive
objections, do not hesitate. Leave and find a better establishment.
3. Compliance with Legal and Health Regulations – In most states, in order to receive your
business license, the Department of Health will conduct one or more preoperational
inspections to verify and approve that the spa facility is constructed and equipped in
accordance with approved plans and modifications; has established standard operating
procedures, and is in compliance with these regulations. Businesses are required to post
a current license, valid Certificate of Occupancy, and current inspection results in a
conspicuous location. If your spa does not have these legal documents visible, ask to see
4. Clean and Neat Environment – Look for sanitary practices that include washing hands
between clients, clean massage rooms with fresh towels and sheets, professional staff in
uniforms as opposed to their own clothing, and well-organized reception area and other
5. Location, Location, Location – Although many illicit massage parlors are hiding in plain
sight, seek establishments in reputable neighborhoods with normal business hours. If
they are open after 7pm or 8pm, or 24-hours, that is a red flag.
6. Windows and External Appearance – If it looks sketchy from the outside, it probably is.
If there is signage eluding to extracurricular activities, or if there are blacked out
windows, or no windows at all, beware.
7. Locked Doors –If you come across a locked front door, or you need to be “buzzed in”,
these are signs that criminal activity may be going on inside.
8. Customers are Male and Female – Illicit massage parlors service a majority male
clientele. If the other customers are all male, you may have stumbled into to sketchy
9. Massage Therapist Vary in Age and Gender – Look for massage therapist that vary in
age and gender. Most illicit massage parlors clients are men and the sex workers are
10. Reviews and Word of Mouth – Read the reviews of the spa on Yelp, Google Reviews,
TripAdvisor, etc. Ask around. Recommendations from friends and family are a good way
to find a massage spa that you can trust.
About Shepherd AI
Shepherd AI was founded in 2017 to be the first in Human Behavior Risk analytics agency that
develops and uses technology to eliminate risky human behaviors such as sexual misconduct
and assault in intimate professional environments. The Puerto-Rican based company specializes
in enabling an environment of trust and safety where team members act with the utmost
integrity and stewardship of business. Visit the website for more information at