People Who Fight Against Human Trafficking Share Tips To Spot Illegal Activity
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Unfortunately, it's no secret that people are becoming the victims of human trafficking all around us.

Every country, city, town, and region can be the site of abduction, where a vulnerable person is groomed to be free labor or the victim of predatory sex

But even though we know it's happening, it's difficult to locate. To do so requires a trained eye that knows the warning signs to look for.

Luckily, some Redditors used a thread to inform themselves--and all of us in the process.

PermanentSeeker asked the following question:

"People who help fight human trafficking: what are some tips you have for spotting illegal activity, and reporting it?"

Some comments wasted no time giving pragmatic advice.

They offered specific signs and behaviors to look for, how to double check, and what to do when the unfortunate truth seems likely.

Missing Things 

"I had a loved one pulled into the sex trafficking industry as an adult. So, I can offer a couple pointers for spotting adults who are being sold as sex workers."

  1. "Missing shoes. It's hard to run away in a city barefoot. Blisters are a dead giveaway."
  2. "Not carrying a cell phone, identification, or the purse or wallet to put it in. Their pimp likes to hold these hostage to prohibit contact with the outside world and to make it difficult to purchase long distance transportation."

-- LoneQuietus81

Trust Yourself 

"I worked as front desk for a hotel, had a couple of experiences with this."

"Look for groups of 2-3 where one person does all of the talking, specifically when the other(s) look scared, are overly covered, cringe when the talker is speaking, or look under the influence of something."

"Ensure you get ID from all parties when you suspect something is going on, note down their room number and names given, trust your gut, what we call a 'gut feeling' is a combination of millions of tiny factors you might not knowingly be aware of, tiny details like hitched breathing, microexpressions, specific lying tells, environmental factors, etc."

"These all add up and let your subconscious mind make connections that your general mind might not. Trust that feeling if you suspect something is wrong, and contact the police to inform them of a suspected human trafficking issue."

"Both times my gut told me to call it in I ended up regrettably being correct."

-- tsavong117

Memorized Lines 

"Where I live, human trafficking is a big problem and there was a huge bust at a hotel not too long ago."

"Usually hotels, motels, and airlines are trained to look out for signs of trafficking. Red flags include those who are very scared or nervous around specific people or talk like their following a script."

"Those who are targeted usually come from broken homes or poor countries with the promise of a better life or how all of their problems can be solved by doing X. It can also include being showered with expensive or luxury gifts as a start of the luring in process."

-- Kevin-W


"Here in Spain we get a lot of women from eastern Europe and sub saharan Africa, some pay for their trip to europe this way, some are blackmailed and some are lured offers of jobs like cleaning, or low level administrative jobs (secretaries, paper pushing) and end up on in a roadside brothel."

"If you´re a young woman in a poor area of eastern europe and you get a offer for a easy job in germany, france, spain or the netherlands. be VERY suspicious."

-- Aevum1

Litmus Test 

"My sociology professor told us if we ever see a child at a motel/hotel , make sure to say hi to them , and you can pretty well judge by their reaction if they're safe or not"

"also it's a bit harder to do as a man"

-- Ok_Act_1214


"In Latin America: Look for maids who have been with a family since they were children. In my country they are called criadas."

"This is form of servitude that closely resembles slavery and begins with a child, usually female of a poor rural family being brought to live with a moderately welthy urban family. The promise of a better future than what the parents could provide."

"These kids don't attend school and perform house chores all day and are paid in food and living quarters and sometimes the promise of money that the bosses are holding for them. They grow up this way so when they are adults they are afraid to leave, they don't know any other way of life."

"The bosses don't often acknowledge anything wrong and they claim that the criada is grateful for having been given a better life."

"I sadly have to admit that this happened in my extended family, they were bosses to a criada who would be 75 years old today. Only after all my aunts died and my cousins inherited the criada, they acknowledged the wrong doing and arragend for her to have a pension and a house and never have to work again and be treated a respected member of the family. But it was too late. She only lived as a retired person for 5 years before dying. She never learned to read, she never had children or a husband or any type or significant other."


It Happened To A Family Member

"In Texas, something similar happened to my great grandmother when she was around ten. This can happen anywhere. And children are particularly vulnerable."

"Her father traded her for some farm animals in the 1910's. So she went to live with this middle-aged married couple. She was supposed to be their servant in exchange for food and board. She had her first child fathered by the husband when she was eleven. It didn’t survive. The second one did."

"After my grandma told me about all this and more, I suddenly understood my great grandmother better, her personality and her actions. And I had always wondered why she wasn’t much older than her oldest children. And then I knew why."

"If I remember correctly, she died in the late nineties/early 2000's. She was a complicated woman."

"Edit: I’m not sure if this will make anyone feel any better, but stick with me. From what I understand, she ended up getting married to a man when she was around eighteen or twenty or so to escape that situation. He was also very old and abusive. She went through a series of super old and abusive men."

"And I’m not pointing fingers and neither is my grandma, but they all died from stuff like heart attacks early on. Maybe because they were old? It's a bit of a weird coincidence. Keep in mind, my great grandmother was hardworking, but she was never allowed to go to school or do anything to invest in her own future. She was stuck in below minimum wage jobs with a whole lot of kids to feed and clothe."

"I can’t say her life was ever easy or fair. She was a hard woman and hard to like. And I personally always thought that she seemed unhappy. I don’t blame her on that score. But we loved her. She lived to be in her nineties in an assisted living facility, and at the very least, she had children and grandchildren who loved her."


Others offered a more general contribution to the discussion. They reiterated just how common human trafficking is in communities everywhere.

They advised we don't look for the spectacular images we imagine, but the subtle ones we don't.

The Thin Line Between Slavery and Labor

"Most of human trafficking is not the movie kind. It's more the kind where an ethnic restaurant brings over a cook from their home country and they have to work unreasonable hours to pay back for the trip."

"Or maybe it's a maid or a construction worker who works below minimum wage and can't have their passport back."

"So look for people who work long hours at sub-legal wages."

-- Pontus_Pilates

Youth And Coercion

"This is a great tip. One of the problems of porn is that it’s nearly impossible to tell who is being coerced behind the scenes and who isn’t. The younger they are, the more likely coercion is. But even adults can be trafficked or coerced or otherwise trapped or taken advantage of. Plus, the rise of easy-access porn is fueling a rise in sex trafficking."


Well-Concealed Operations

"I’ve told this story on here before. I don’t fight human trafficking, but I’m a teacher who had a student who was sold by his mother in exchange for drugs. He was kept as a sex slave from ages 3-11 when the FBI uncovered a sex ring and found him. He had never been to school. He had never even been out of the house. These sorts of crimes are not being committed out in the open. They are very well hidden. You will never see these children, and no one is missing them. This poor boy couldn’t read or write. One day, he got a 100% on his spelling test. He asked me if I could ‘call his mom and ask her to take him back and he’d be a good boy from now on.’ Child sex trafficking is unfortunately all too common, but its become a very hidden problem."


And finally, some people embraced contemporary technology's place in the fight to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Nifty, and Significant

"There's an app you can download called TraffickCam."

"Any time you stay at a hotel, upload photos of your room. Those photos are incorporated into an artificial intelligence algorithm that helps identify locations of trafficking victims via background details."

-- m31td0wn

Sketchy Websites

"A couple months ago I was looking for this one adult video that I liked but seemed to be removed from Pornhub (which in itself should’ve been a red flag). I eventually found it after a couple of minutes, but it was on one of those sketchy a** websites where a pop up comes up every other click you make. Well, turns out one of those pop ups goes to a literal child porn forum, where the first thing I’m greeted with is a picture of a little girl doing something I won’t even say here."

"I immediately reported the site and closed out faster than I ever have before. Moral of the story: avoid sketchy porn sites. This sh*t is way more out in the open than you’d think."


Reporting Websites

"Yeah that’s how I learned where I can report websites."

"Spent the rest of the night thinking the fbi was going to knock down my door. It’s surprising how that sh*t is just on the surface web and so easy to stumble on."


Normally, I'd close by encouraging readers to examine their own lives and see how their own experience relates. But of course, I sincerely hope it does not.

But if reading this puts something on your radar at all, don't hesitate to make a call.

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