Today I heard of a scam where human traffickers purchase or otherwise acquire branded Instagram accounts in order to lure young female influencers to places like Miami. Once there, the true owners of the accounts would then kidnap and sex traffic the victims.
The story I heard was terrifying and the influencer was very lucky because she couldn’t find another female friend to accompany her on the “paid hotel trip.” So she brought a male friend instead. They were picked up at the airport by some men and questioned as to where the other female was. They explained that no female friend was available and she instead brought this male friend.
In this particular case, the men who came to pick them up probably didn’t think it was worth the trouble or risk of disposing of this male friend and decided to dump them both back out at the airport. They then drove off and left them there.
Still not realizing what was actually happening, and just thinking that these were rude drivers, they showed up to the hotel in an uber. After speaking with the manager there they eventually discovered that they were not talking to the hotel at all but instead some scammers who had nefarious intentions.
The male friend who accompanied her suggested that she should call the cops and inform them of what just happened. From what I gathered, this influencer still didn’t realize the true extent of the danger she was in. She definitely wasn’t raised in the Bronx, that’s for sure. After listening to the details, the police sent over a detective and that’s when she finally understood that this was common scam used to kidnap and traffic women. Very scary stuff!
Clearly this influencer lacked some basic, street survival skills, but my philosophy and advice to you when it comes to online accounts, offers, etc is to assume that everyone is a scammer. If a brand reached out to you and makes you a great offer, then contact the hotel or business via their official online presence and verify it. Until they undoubtably prove otherwise, assume that you are dealing with a scammer. If this causes you to offend someone, well, that’s better than being trafficked.
You should be especially careful if you are a female, I mean, who wants to traffic me? If a brand asks you to “bring a lady friend,” ask yourself, what’s the reason behind that? That should be an immediate red flag for you. I’d argue that you should never go to this types of invitations without adequate protection. I’d apply that to both male and female, but especially female. Please, be safe out there.
Just a life long New Yorker sharing the journey through my lens. Please take note of a post’s date. The views I express here are subject to change and evolving as I grow and learn.