Human trafficking is a plight against humanity. It’s modern day slavery. We see on the news more and more about how people - men, women and children - are bought and sold like livestock. In many cases the victims don’t even know they’ve been trafficked until it is too late to act. Here are some everyday tricks human traffickers use to target innocent people.
The “Free” Photoshoot
Ads for models are not uncommon in papers and online. There are a lot of up and coming photographers who are trying to break into the business so they offer free photoshoots to unrepresented talent like teenagers. The legitimate photographers then use these pictures to build a portfolio to earn more business. This is a real practice, however human traffickers use the same scenario to lure people to a secluded place to be kidnapped.
Traffickers will post an ad for a free photo shoot. Then when the person arrives for their photoshoot they are taken. If you are trying to break into the modeling business then work with a reputable agent to get your start. Make sure the photographers you choose to work with are above board by confirming their website and checking their references. Don’t answer an ad for a “free” photoshoot.
Traffickers across the globe use social media to infiltrate and influence people. Teens and pre-teens are especially susceptible to this one. Traffickers use a network to identify teens who are vulnerable, going through difficult times, to find an easy target. By using social media like Facebook, Snapchat and the chat section of any online game, traffickers can reach children at home when they feel safe. Grooming kids for exploitation is as easy behind a keyboard as it is face to face.
What can start as a friendly chat can turn into a fake friendship. Traffickers posing as teens can text, share videos and tag their targets in photos to deepen the relationship that leads to a meeting in real life. Some traffickers may even take a romantic angle asking for nude photos. When the “friends” meet in a public place, the trafficker will suggest they go somewhere else by car. Then the target is taken to another location where they are never seen again.
The Blind Date
This is a difficult plot to foresee since it involves at least two people and a significant investment in time. Many people commonly believe that human traffickers are only men. That is a dangerous misconception. Women are involved in the targeting of innocent people.
In some cases the female trafficker may be a prostitute that has earned the favor of her pimp and is now promoted to be a recruiter. Where her role was to earn money from sex she now finds girls her boss could easily influence in exchange for a cut of the money and less time being used for sex.
In this scheme, the recruiter targets a young woman at the gym. They “accidentally” keep bumping into each other over the period of a week. Then they become workout buddies and exchange phone numbers. While working out the recruiter mentions that the target would be a great fit for her cousin. She arranges a blind date for the two of them.
When the target shows up at the restaurant the cousin, the pimp, embarrassingly explains that their reservations have been lost. He suggests they check out the pizza place down the block. They leave the restaurant and on the way they pass a van parked on the street where the pimp forces the target inside while the driver takes off.
The ploys human traffickers use are vast and in-depth. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to use common sense, meet new people in public, refuse to go to another location with someone and of course monitor who your kids are talking to online and in person.
To learn more about how to protect your family safe check out my article: Human Traffickers Secret Weapon.
For more ways to keep your family safe, consider The Secure Dad Newsletter.