People responding to advertisements and public signs promising too-good-to-be-true employment opportunities are turning out to be a lure designed to trap unsuspecting people who will be caught in a world of hurt before they realize it.
We see the signs for everywhere. Opportunities for employment that promise an opportunity to make a good living, sometimes they even promise a chance at a new life. Some of these opportunities are legitimate, but the the number of human trafficking scams these signs and online postings mask have been appearing at an alarming rate.
Humantraffickinghotline.org offers the following chilling definition of human trafficking:
Traffickers exploit others for the profit gained from forced labor and commercial sex. They lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual or physical abuse. Traffickers promise a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or new and exciting opportunities and then use physical and psychological violence to control them. Traffickers can be lone individuals or part of extensive criminal networks, with the common thread of exploiting people for profit.
A wide range of criminals, including individual pimps, family operations, small businesses, loose-knit decentralized criminal networks, and international organized criminal operations, can be human traffickers. Often the traffickers and their victims share the same national, ethnic, or cultural background, allowing the trafficker to better understand and exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims. Traffickers can be foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, males and females, family members, intimate partners, acquaintances, and strangers.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, according to the Human Trafficking Search it is estimated that the crime victimizes globally around 21 million men, women, and children of any background imaginable.
In many cases the greatest danger exists online where it can be even easier to be ensnared according to Venture Beat.
Mark Latonero, who heads the Technology and Human Trafficking Initiative at the University of Southern Carolina, said social media platforms leave traffickers exposed to investigators but the huge volume of posts makes it difficult for police to identify an actual victim, survivor or trafficker.
“Traffickers are using the scale and popularity of online services to essentially hide in plain sight,” he said.
“Even if we identified all traffickers or victims online, law enforcement and social services lack the manpower and resources to effectively respond,” added Latonero, who is also a fellow at the U.S.-based Data and Society Research Institute.
Some major of huge warning signs that a posted job opportunity might be human trafficking scam include:
- Vague or minimal information – Provides no identifying information, or an opportunity to learn more about the posted position. The only point of contact is a phone number and nothing else.
- Too good to be true description – The job pays too well for the work being done. Promises no experience is necessary for such opportunities.
- Targets teenagers at younger than normal ages for working – As the purple flyer in the image above shows it can be as young as 14, and even younger that than.
- Requires the prospective victim to meet at a place where they can be victimized – A remote location or apartment, sometimes even outside of the victim’s home country.
According to Human Trafficking Hotline businesses commonly taken advantage of by human traffickers include:
- Advertising (Online and Print)
- Airlines, bus, rail, and taxi companies
- Financial institutions, money transfer services, and informal cash transfer services
- Hospitality industry, including hotels and motels
- Labor brokers, recruitment agencies, or independent recruiters
- Travel and visa/passport services
Fortunately the scourge of human trafficking isn’t something we can do nothing about. Human Trafficking Search provides several ways anybody can do something to fight against this insidious crime.
- Research the facts – Learn more about the who, what, why, and how of trafficking and how to identify it.
- Spread the word – Talk about trafficking for friends and family, with the most powerful way to achieve this being through social media, such as this viral Facebook post.
- Speak Up – Write about human trafficking and submit it to media outlets. Contact your political representatives/leaders and ask them to make this an issue that is important to them in the hopes it becomes important to all. Inform the travel bureaus of countries that are especially egregious offenders that you will not visit their country until they address this issue.
- Invest time and money – Volunteer and fundraise for anti-trafficking organizations.
- Businesses can also get involved by examining their practices, their supply chains, and who they do business with to ensure no illegal activities by or associated with the business are being conducted surreptitiously.
You can see more detailed explanations of all of these here. No effort is too small if it can lead to liberating and saving lives.