In February 2018, Homeland Security officials reported a 50 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases in New Orleans over the previous year. Since then, a number of cases have been reported, including that of a 16-year-old girl rescued last December. But how do traffickers find their victims in the first place?
How Traffickers Lure Victims
In spite of what you might read online, abduction is one of the rarer methods of human trafficking and recruitment. More common are “Loverboy” techniques, where a trafficker will seduce a young woman in order to force or coerce them into prostitution. The victim is groomed and abused throughout the relationship. Learn to recognize the signs of psychological/emotional abuse. At the first sign of either in any relationship – get out.
Fake Job Advertisements
Another common tactic is a fake offer of employment. Traffickers love to prey on the desperate, and when times are tough, there’s plenty of desperation to go around. A trafficker may advertise for a nanny, travel agent, or other jobs in the tourism or hospitality industries. When the victim shows up for their “interview, any documents they brought with them are seized, and the victim is subjected to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. Always do some background research on any company that invites you for an interview – oftentimes a simple internet search can tell you if a company is legitimate or not.
Religious cults are another way to recruit victims of human trafficking. A charismatic and often attractive “leader” will use victims’ religious beliefs against them in order to lure them into becoming willing participants. Often they are groomed in the same ways that a “loverboy” might groom their victims – through emotional, psychological, and physical abuse over time. If you join a new church, and something feels “off,” – don’t stick around. Leave immediately. If you suspect that a religious organization is actually a cult, report it to your local authorities.
While it is a rarer form of recruitment, abduction is a method that human traffickers use. While, on the whole, traffickers prefer more vulnerable victims like the homeless and young runaways, they do occasionally choose other targets. Just ask Michigan resident Nahar Ali, who recently posted this Facebook video after his wife and young daughter had a close call in their local Target parking lot.
When you’re shopping by yourself, or with young children, it’s important to remain situationally aware. Traffickers tend to prey on those they think are the most vulnerable – a sense of awareness automatically makes you less so.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.