$250,000 escort sex-tape extortion scam failsAn as yet unidentified "Silicon Valley businessman" just got away with hiring an escort off an also as yet unidentified "social networking service." Of course he's not the only one — we're just hearing about him in the Chronicle, the Mercury News, and even the Palo Alto Daily, because his session, in a Palo Alto hotel room, was taped by a team of would-be extortionists. Last week, the Valley guy called the Los Altos police to his aid when "explicit images" from the tape turned up in his work email account, with the threat that unless he turned over $250,000, the tape would be leaked online. They'd recorded him on surveillance cameras without his knowledge.So how did he not only avoid going to jail for hiring a prostitute, but also keep the tape mum? The Los Altos cops did what they do best: an old-fashioned sting. The client turned up at a remote location suggested by cops to make the drop, and bargained down the hotel-room pornographers to $50,000. Officers arrested the alleged extorters as they drove away from the scene. The department had 15 officers working on the sting — and this isn't the only scam the ring pulled. Police are encouraging other clients to come forward. We'll repeat the cocktail-party line we keep hearing: "No one in the Valley hires prostitutes." If so, why are extortionists and vice cops doing such good business? (Photo by elliottcable)