A $32 billion industry, human trafficking is on the rise in all 50 states and their recruiting methods have become more sophisticated than ever. One doesn’t just have to look out for the criminal or pimp, we must also be wary of love interests, friends, family and potential employers. Based on human trafficking cases that have been identified by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, examples of traffickers may include:
- Brothel and fake massage business owners and managers
- Employers of domestic servants
- Gangs and criminal networks
- Growers and crew leaders in agriculture
- Intimate partners/family members
- Labor brokers
- Factory owners and corporations
- Small business owners and managers.
What hasn’t changed is that traffickers still prey upon people with certain characteristics. They target those who need work, have an unstable home life or a history of sexual or physical abuse. We’re aware that runaways are prime targets, but traffickers now target college women, married women, men, etc. who seek better pay, a loving relationship or an exciting opportunity. Traffickers also attempt to recruit those who share the same national, ethnic, or cultural background which allows them to better relate, understand and exploit their potential victim. You may not discover he/she is a trafficker until it’s too late. But here some warning signs that may just save your life:
- Their story doesn’t check out. If they claim to have a business or some other activity, don’t just trust what they say, look it up before agreeing to meet them anywhere.
- You just met and they want to invite you over or meet someplace secluded. Don’t do it. And if you’re out in public, do not accept food, drink or medicine from anyone.
- The employment ad guarantees you’ll be making a lot of money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can verify potential income by researching salaries for specific job titles. If it doesn’t fall within that range or if the recruiter asks for you to text your address or a picture, it is not a legitimate employment opportunity.
- Your instinct tells you something is wrong. If so, smile, be polite and leave asap. There is no need to tell them about your suspicion. It could put you in even more danger.
When you’re home or someplace safe, call The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or fill out the form on this site: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/report-trafficking. Just having their name, phone number or business address could help authorities investigate and prevent someone else from becoming a victim.