Cops: Internet-savvy prostitute busted in West Cambridge

Erin Smith/Chronicle Staff

Police arrested an alleged prostitute accused of turning tricks with the help of the Internet in normally quiet West Cambridge last week.

The Norumbega Street woman was allegedly posting advertisements for sex on the online forum craigslist under the prostitute name “Tammy.” Her going rate was $200 per hour, according to police.

Detectives arrested 39-year-old Linda S. Shaffer and charged her with keeping a house of prostitution and sexual conduct for a fee during a warrant search on her house Jan. 11 at 1:58 p.m.

Police allegedly found two index cards with numerical figures and the names of her johns inside a safe in her upstairs bedroom of a two-family home.

Earlier in the day, a Cambridge detective called the number on the online advertisement and set up a sex sting using the fake john name of “Carlos.” While Shaffer thought she was greeting a customer named “Carlos” on her enclosed porch at 9 Norumbega St., police swarmed the house with a search warrant, according to police reports.

Shaffer’s cleaning woman, who was there at the time of the warrant search, allegedly told police Shaffer had “many male friends that came in and out,” according to police reports.

Cambridge Police set up surveillance outside Shaffer’s house before the raid and allegedly caught an older man leaving the suspected brothel. Before releasing the alleged john, detectives said they saw a yellow notebook on the front seat of his car with the writing, “Tammy, tall, hot stuff” and the phone number from the craigslist advertisement, according to police reports.

Police allegedly found numerous condoms, personal lubricators, notebooks and a black zipper bag with drug paraphernalia in a dresser at Shaffer’s home. Police also seized $488 and an appointment book from Shaffer’s purse. In Shaffer’s living room, police allegedly found a Compaq laptop computer displaying an open window with Shaffer’s Yahoo! e-mail inbox. The inbox had several e-mails with subject headings referring to Shaffer’s craigslist advertisement, according to police.

Police also seized Shaffer’s Sprint cell phone, which allegedly had the same telephone number as the craigslist advertisements for sex. While police were searching her home, Shaffer’s cell phone allegedly rang several times with men calling looking for “Tammy.”