When Nicole was aged 17 and her mother was sent to prison for white collar crimes, she met a man on Facebook who offered to take care of her.But instead of looking after her, he sold Nicole to men across the United States from Texas to Washington D. It was only when she was in her early 20s, after being badly injured in a vicious rape, that she was finally able to escape sex work. Traffickers worldwide are increasingly using social media to contact vulnerable teenagers and sell them into sex work, quick to adopt the latest online platforms popular with teenagers that has created new challenges for law enforcement agencies.Once limited to luring victims in the street, traffickers can now message thousands of people through Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Tagged and Twitter, with Whats App and Snapchat some of the latest tools in their arsenal. traffickers can make thousands of dollars off that girl very quickly,” said Andrea Powell, founder and director of FAIR Girls, a U.
Powell, accompanying Nicole to the Trust Women conference on trafficking and women’s rights this week run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said a growing trend in the United States is to use Whats App or Snapchat where messages evaporate over time.
“In some cases you have really stupid traffickers who leave mountains and mountains of email trails,” said Powell.
“But most of the time everything’s done through different applications on different sites so law enforcement is having to learn how to use these …
It’s a whole different ballgame.” Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said social media and other online technology have not only taken the recruitment and selling process off the streets but also allow traffickers to control victims using remote surveillance.
But it does mean traffickers and victims leave permanent traces which can help police to identify them, Europol added.
No one at Europol was available for further comment.Britain’s National Crime Agency said the use of social media by traffickers is an emerging trend, but the agency does not have hard data of how widespread it is.Globally, nearly 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, a 0 billion industry, according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization.An estimated 4.5 million of them are forced into sex work. Most of them had been sexually abused and were in foster care, with traffickers getting a psychological hold on them. S.-based Truckers Against Trafficking mobilizing lorry drivers against domestic sex trafficking, said social media was a “massive entry point”.FAIR Girls said about 90 percent of the people it helped in Washington D. Paris, a speaker at the Nov 17-18 Trust Women conference, said children were easy to manipulate, “especially young girls, unfortunately, looking for love”.“This kind of thing happens all the time,” said Paris, whose network has led to more than 350 trafficking cases since 2011 and identified about 650 trafficking victims.