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  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Human trafficking, , , ,   

    Delivery text message scam not linked to human trafficking 

    Delivery text message scam not linked to human trafficking

    Recently, we posted a story about how a text messaging scam was fooling victims into giving up their personal and financial information. If you’ll recall, the scam entailed receiving a text message that claimed to be from a delivery service like UPS or FedEx. The text message will say that you have an undelivered package and it will provide a link for you to click on to supposedly set your delivery preferences. Here’s a sample of what the message could look like.

    What happens once you click on the link is you’ll be taken to a page that is designed to look like a page from Amazon. The fake Amazon page will then ask you to fill out a customer service survey in order to claim a prize. After you win the prize, you’ll be asked to pay for shipping by providing your financial information. From there, the scammers can do pretty much what they want with your financial information. In some instances, victims have been signed up for subscription services related to their ‘prize’ that ended up costing them $100 a month.

    For some reason on social media, this texting scam started to be passed around as being part of a human trafficking ring. Multiple anti-human trafficking agencies have gone on record to say this is simply not true.

    Unfortunately, the reality is when recruiting victims for human trafficking, it isn’t so elaborate. More often than not, traffickers will prey on the more vulnerable members of our society such as the homeless and those struggling with addiction or untreated mental health issues. If the traffickers are looking to recruit children, they’ll often take to social media to look for children who are having problems at home or school and are looking for a way to escape their lives. Random unsolicited text messages are not one of the tools in the trafficker’s arsenal.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, huntsville, Huntsville International Airport, ,   

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking 

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking

    Whenever we discuss the modeling scam we usually talk about how it could lead the victim into spending a lot of money that they don’t need to. For example, a number of online and radio ads for modeling jobs are actually just sales pitches for overpriced classes or photo packages. However, there is a much darker side to the modeling scam that can have grave consequences for the victims involved and that is human trafficking. Traffickers often pose as modeling or talent agents in order to find victims and a recent story shows what lengths they will go to find their victims.

    In Huntsville, Alabama it’s believed a 21-year-old woman almost fell victim to human traffickers posing as a modeling agency. If it wasn’t for her mother losing her car in the airport parking lot the woman might have never been seen again. When an airport employee saw the woman frantically looking for her car the employee stopped to help the woman. As they got to talking the woman said she had just dropped off her daughter at the terminal and that her daughter was leaving for a modeling offer in Phoenix. The mother told the employee that the agency even bought her daughter the ticket to fly to Phoenix. Thankfully, the airport employee had been trained on how to recognize human trafficking.

    Thankfully, they were able to find the woman before she boarded the plane. The employee was able to convince the woman that the modeling offer may not be on the up and up and arranged to have a police officer escort her at her destination. The employee then called the ‘agency’ to tell them that the woman would be escorted by police. It was shortly thereafter when the woman received texts from the fake modeling agency saying her flight had been canceled. Both Homeland Security and the TSA have said that the phony agency has been linked to other instances of human trafficking.

    If you or a family member has ambitions of getting into modeling, have realistic expectations of what can be achieved in such a field crowded with treachery at every turn. Always do as much research as you can into any offer or opportunity you might find. Not everyone can be a model but these scammers, predators, and traffickers target victims who believe they have a shot in the modeling or entertainment industry and take advantage of their dreams. The Federal Trade Commission website has some tips on how not to get scammed by modeling ads.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Human trafficking, , ,   

    Potential modeling scam poses threat 

    Potential modeling scam poses threat

    The modeling scam isn’t one we discuss often but it can have potentially devastating effects. The damage can range anywhere from simply being swindled out of a substantial amount of money to becoming the victim of an online predator. Modeling can artists like to prey upon the insecurities of their victims and promise them lives of luxury and fame even though the odds of becoming a legitimately successful model are about the same as someone becoming a successful professional athlete. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped victims from being scammed and the swindlers are always looking for new ways to find more victims.

    For example, recently in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina, a number of women were sent text messages asking them if they wanted to be models for Victoria’s Secret. The texter was reportedly posing as a former model and asked the women for photos, personal information, and possibly a meeting. Authorities in the area believe this could potentially be a plot to recruit victims for human trafficking. Usually, human traffickers rely on social media to try to recruit victims instead of text messaging. However, the women that were texted in Myrtle Beach are all public figures in their profession and their numbers could have been obtained in any number of ways.

    If you are thinking about getting into the modeling industry, have realistic expectations and do your research on the pitfalls it entails. What may sound like a great job could be any number of ways you can put yourself in danger. While you may be able to find one or two legitimate modeling jobs online, for the most part, legitimate modeling jobs are done through modeling agencies. The Federal Trade Commission has a website on how to tell if a modeling job is legitimate or if you’re dealing with shady charlatans.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking,   

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next? 

    Jeffrey Epstein: What Happens Next?

    Jeffrey Epstein

    We’ve been following the story of billionaire financier and accused child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein since the news first broke of the generously lenient plea deal he received in Florida. If you’ll recall, Epstein was given his plea deal back in 2005 by Alexander Acosta who was a Miami U.S. Attorney at the time. More recently, Acosta was President Trump’s Secretary of Labor before resigning after Epstein’s New York arrest. By now you’ve probably heard the news that Epstein took his own life over the weekend. So, how does Epstein’s death affect the overall investigation into the crimes he was accused of committing?

    Many of Epstein’s victims feel like Epstein has escaped justice as they would have preferred to have had their day in court against him. However, Epstein’s death does make it easier for prosecutors and investigators to use evidence against any of Epstein’s potential co-conspirators. Any evidence seized should be admissible against any other defendant without a possibility of a motion to suppress. Ghislaine Maxwell has been accused in civil lawsuits of procuring Epstein’s victims. While she has not been charged with any criminal charges, it is possible that she could be assisting in the current investigation of Epstein.

    Of course, the elephant in the room has to be addressed as many people believe the conspiracy theory Epstein did not take his own life but that instead, his death was a politically motivated murder. Many of these people feel that his death was either ordered by the Clintons or President Trump since Epstein had connections to both parties. However, the truth is more likely less fantastical. While Epstein had been on suicide watch prior to his death he had been removed from it. Also, suicide watch may not be what you think it is. It doesn’t mean that a prison inmate is being watched at all times around the clock with cameras in their cells for years upon end. According to a former correctional treatment specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, suicide watch rarely lasts longer than a week. Not only that, but the unfortunate reality of prisons is that inmates take their own lives on a fairly consistent basis.

    Look at it this way, Epstein was a man who lived a life of decadent luxury and probably didn’t care how many underage girls he had to hurt to get what he wanted. Looking at the rest of his life being spent in prison for one of the most heinous crimes that is even looked down upon by the other inmates, Epstein probably felt that death was the better option for him.

     
  • Geebo 8:16 am on July 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Secretary of Labor quits after Epstein arrest! 

    Secretary of Labor quits after Epstein arrest!

    US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resigned his post this past Friday in the wake of the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein. If you’ll recall, Acosta was the Miami U.S. Attorney who negotiated the relatively light sentence the supposed billionaire received after pleading guilty to state charges of that involved trafficking underage girls. Not surprisingly, President Trump stood behind Acosta amidst the recent controversy.

    Trump said he believed Acosta thoroughly “explained” his decision making at the news conference, which sources said the president urged him to conduct. The president praised Acosta’s performance “under pressure,” saying he did a “fantastic job.”

    However, that wasn’t the only revelation that came out over the weekend. According to part of his indictment in the Southern District of New York, it was revealed that Epstein never bothered to check in with New York officials since he was a registered sex offender and maintained a residence in New York. That’s a potential felony violation that could carry a sentence of four years behind bars alone.

    Epstein is also said to have paid $350,000 to two potential witnesses after the Miami Herald first broke their story about Epstein back in November. Prosecutors argue that this is just one of many reasons to have Epstein denied bond while he awaits trial. Of course, with Epstein’s wealth and resources at his expense, he could be considered a considerable flight risk. A bond hearing is set for later today.

    Lastly, and possibly one of the more disturbing aspects of this story, is that even though Epstein was a convicted sex offender, he was still welcomed among the financial elites and celebrities.

    In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida jail, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Mr. Epstein was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

    Had this been just about anyone else, they would have never been released from prison in the first place. Justice is supposed to be blind, but apparently it doesn’t stop it from being greedy. Just ask Alexander Acosta.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human trafficking, ,   

    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat? 

    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat?

    Within the past few days, there has been a rumor surrounding the photo-sharing app Snpachat. The rumor that’s been circulating mainly on Facebook claims that there is a sex trafficking ring operating in Lawrence, Massachusetts that recruits young girls over Snapchat. The rumor purports that strangers are adding your kids as friends on Snapchat and once they do that the traffickers are able to ascertain your child’s location and potentially kidnap them. However, according to the Lawrence Police, there is no such trafficking ring operating in Lawrence and fact-checking site Snopes says the rumor is gaining ground due to a misunderstanding about how Snapchat works.

    Snapchat does have a feature where friends can see each other’s location if both friends agree to enable the feature called Snap Map. But if one of the users does not enable Snap Map their location cannot be found. It’s not an automatic thing that turns on once you accept somebody’s friend request.

    Now while there is not currently a sex trafficking ring in Lawrence, that doesn’t mean that traffickers don’t use social media to approach children. In typical cases, traffickers will target children who are having problems at home or have run away in the past. In many instances, those children will have exhibited some evidence on their social media accounts. This allows traffickers to start grooming them by telling them how they understand the child better than the child’s parents do. In some other cases, the traffickers will promise kids from low-income areas with promises of fame and money and convince the child to run away.

    This could happen on any social media platform and not just Snapchat. These grooming techniques are not a new thing and were even used in the MySpace days. One of the best ways to protect your kids from traffickers and other online predators is to talk with them about how these predators operate and how most strangers online probably want something inappropriate from them. Another good way is to keep tabs on the apps your children may use and who is on their friends list. If it’s somebody that they’ve never met in person that you don’t know it’s a good idea to have them remove that person from their contacts. Lastly, you may want to consider holding on to all your children’s device after they go to bed in order to keep an eye on any unusual messages they may receive.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Human trafficking,   

    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage’s attorneys 

    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage's attorneys

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

    Tom Dart is the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is the 2nd largest Sheriff’s Office in the country with Los Angeles County in California being the first. Sheriff Dart has long been an outspoken adversary of the now-defunct Backpage.com. Some may say that Dart was one of the main driving forces behind the push to prove Backpage was just a thinly veiled operation designed to facilitate human trafficking. However, now that Backpage has been seized by the Federal Government, Sheriff Dart doesn’t appear to be done with them.

    In a pivotal moment in the fight against Backpage, Sheriff Dart wrote to the major credit card companies and urged them to stop accepting payments for Backpage transactions. The credit card companies complied and cut Backpage off from a major source of revenue. Since Sheriff Dart wrote those letters as the Sheriff of Cook County, Backpage sued Dart claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated. But after Backpage was seized CEO Carl Ferrer admitted that the lawsuit was a hoax. Not only was the suit dismissed, but Sheriff Dart asked that Backpage be punished for abusing the court system but also asked that Backpage’s attorneys at the time be punished as well. Dart argued that Backpage’s attorneys should have known that Backpage was lying to the court but a judge denied that request.

    More recently, Sheriff Dart has renewed his bid to have the Backpage’s former law firm punished as new information is said to have come to light. Dart asserts that testimony given by Ferrer indicates that the law firm was well aware of Backpage’s criminal activity. According to Ferrer, the law firm that represented Backpage allegedly advised them on a number of legal issues including advice on handling cryptocurrency which Ferrer previously admitted to was part of Backpage’s money laundering operation.

    Is Backpage’s former law firm just collateral damage in the legal fight against Backpage or did they have knowledge of what Backpage was really up to?

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking, ,   

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec 

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    We’ve previously discussed former Backpage executive Dan Hyer here. Back in August if last year, Hyer pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to facilitate prostitution. At the time it was reported that Hyer’s plea deal could see him be fined $250,000 and a possible jail sentence of five years. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors would drop fifty charges of facilitating prostitution and 17 money laundering charges.

    Hyer was originally supposed to be sentenced last November but the wheels of justice can move slowly. Hyer’s sentencing date has now been scheduled for July 29th of this year. Hyer was among many who were initially indicted last year but so far was the only one indicted to plead guilty. Backpage co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are set to go to trial next year. While not named on the indictment, former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has also pleaded guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering and is expected to testify against other Backpage executives. Ferrer is looking at a maximum of five years in prison and forfeiture of his corporate assets. Ferrer’s sentencing has also been scheduled for July.

    Meanwhile, Backpage founders Lacey and Larkin are continuing to defend Backpage’s role in human trafficking as free speech. Previously, they have portrayed themselves as freedom fighters and political prisoners without any hint of irony. It’s hard to argue that they fight for freedom when so many of Backpage’s alleged victims had their freedoms violently restricted while Backpage earned close to half a billion dollars in prostitution-related revenue.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Human trafficking, , , ,   

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case 

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case

    What a $5 car may look like

    As of today, craigslist will start charging $5 for car listings. So as of tax day if you’re selling your car on craigslist it will cost you a fiver. While craigslist has not publicly stated the reason for the change, many speculate that the move will cut down on scam listings. It will be interesting to see if craigslist users will balk at the new fee and if scammers will be willing to pay the fee. Not to mention that it’s almost ironic that craigslist is now starting to act like so many newspaper classifieds that they helped close down.

    ***

    KATU in Portland, Oregon is reporting on a new safety concern when it comes to using ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. Their investigation found that many minors are using the ridesharing services even though their terms of service require a passenger to be at least 18. Some drivers will refuse the fare if they know the passenger is under 18, however, there are many drivers who either don’t know the rules or don’t care. According to KATU, some parents are even ok with their older kids using an Uber or Lyft. If you’re a parent, would you be ok with letting your kid use an Uber or Lyft alone?

    ***

    Lastly for today, it was recently reported that the investigation that allegedly caught New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft using a massage parlor did not find any evidence of human trafficking. Critics have dismissed this investigation as a witch hunt of sorts and that police were just looking to arrest workers and johns. However, in many cases, those being trafficked are unwilling to testify against their traffickers due to fears of reprisal or threats of violence against their families. To refer to human trafficking as an overblown problem is to dismiss the safety and welfare of all those being trafficked against their will who are treated as slaves.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: car wash, Colorado Rockies, , , Human trafficking, , , ,   

    Fake cash in a safe zone, phony opening day tickets, and an app to report human trafficking 

    Fake cash in a safe zone, phony opening day tickets, and an app to report human trafficking

    When dealing with classifieds transactions, we often recommend using safe zones at local police stations. While safe zones go a long way in helping to ensure your safety, you can still be ripped off if you’re not careful. In Pennsylvania, a pair of suspects were said to have paid $500 in ‘Motion Picture Money’ for a PlayStation 4 at a local police station’s safe zone during an OfferUp transaction. While police were able to apprehend the suspects quite easily, this does show that you should be on your guard at all times even when using specially designated safe zones.

    Meanwhile, in Colorado, a couple found themselves out of $300 after trying to purchase opening day tickets for the Colorado Rockies. They had set up a ticket purchase through craigslist and had met the seller in the parking lot of Coors Field on opening day. The couple even took a picture of the man selling the tickets and his driver license in hopes that this would dissuade the man from selling them fake tickets. Unfortunately, it didn’t as the couple were turned away from the gate for the tickets being invalid. The tickets themselves appeared to be legitimate but what scammers do in many cases is they buy the tickets using stolen credit cards. Once the cards are reported stolen the tickets are canceled but the scammer already has physical tickets that were valid at one time. This particular scammer reportedly even taunted his victims after they tried to contact the seller over the phony tickets.

    Lastly, in the UK, an app has been developed to report possible human trafficking at car washes. The app was developed by an anti-slavery arm of the Church of England and shows users a checklist of signs of human trafficking at hands only car washes. A number of the victims at UK car washes turn out to be people displaced by immigration issues, mental health issues, or being in abusive situations. The app refers any possible sightings of trafficking to the UK’s National Crime Agency who decide if it warrants an investigation. While apps like this have been attempted in the US many don’t show the user how to recognize the signs of trafficking. An app like this designed by the FBI and suggested to the industries where human trafficking mostly takes place could be a boon in the fight against all forms of human trafficking. In the meantime, if you or someone you know could be caught up in trafficking you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or at their website.

     
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