Sex Trafficking…Tricks of the Trade
Lately, more stories are being posted on almost a daily basis on how aggressive sex traffickers are becoming. Now more sophisticated techniques, or “tricks of the trade,” they use are starting to make the headlines.
Our company is committed to combating this horrific criminal activity. For that reason, we felt compelled to post information shared with us by Yellow Jacket customers and law enforcement officers who have witnessed this type of crime.
We would strongly urge you to share this article with family and friends so they can be alerted to some of the latest techniques being deployed to kidnap young woman for sex-trafficking purposes. As always, they should be encouraged to remain ever vigilant while outside familiar surroundings.
While UBER and LYFT may be two of the best-known private vehicle transport services used by the public today, they are not the only ones. However, this kidnapping scam is starting to show up in cities all over the world now. It is important that the users of these services remain focused on who is actually picking them.
One of the latest techniques used is women traffickers driving in areas that would see high frequency rates of UBER/LYFT drivers picking up passengers. Women drivers are used so the intended (female) targets are more comfortable getting in the vehicle. The driver will many times, have what looks to be phones mounted in plain sight. They are set up with an apparent UBER profile/application activated and/or a similar posting for a LYFT driver.
Once the car pulls away from the curb, the passenger may find that child-locks may be activated or the rear door handles have been deactivated completely. The driver will then take the victim to a more secluded location (often times using a cover story). Once the victim realizes that not only is this NOT their contracted UBER or LYFT vehicle, they were they were waiting on…its too late. The driver meets with their criminal partners to “hand-off,” the victim into another vehicle so they can return to “trolling” for other unsuspecting targets.
Women in urban environments have reported standing on a curb waiting for their “UBER/LYFT,” when a woman pulls up and asks if they are waiting on their UBER? Without taking a closer look at the car or asking additional questions, they simply jump into the backseat. Since many of these targeted victims are approached at the end of the night, the victims may have been drinking they don’t realize that they are in the wrong car. One intended victim recently reported that the only way she found out she was not in the correct UBER was when her contracted UBER driver called her to ask where she was?! Luckily, she was able to escape by climbing into the front seat and exiting the car at a traffic light!
Parking Lot Scams
Another new technique used is to create a reason for a woman approaching her car to pause before entering it, so as to create an opportunity to “grab,” her. They may also create a reason for her to exit the car focused on something other than her surroundings.
As an example, women are reporting that as they approach their vehicle, they realize that a shopping cart has been “zip-tied,” to the door handle of their car! Since most women do not carry a pocketknife to cut the zip-ties free…they are caught off guard as to why this has been done. The usual reaction is that it was done by someone they may know as a joke. However, what it really does is insure they cannot enter their vehicle! The next thing they know they are being dragged into an adjacent vehicle!
A variation of this type of parking lot assault is for their windshield wipers to be “zip-tied,” together. This is extremely effective if it is raining when the intended victim returns to their vehicle. Either by simply noticing the zip-ties around the windshield wipers….or if the victim tries to use them to clear the windshield while it is raining, the initial reaction is for the driver to exit the car to either try and remove the zip-ties or to figure out what is happening. This is when she is most vulnerable and able to be grabbed and pulled into another vehicle.
When you are walking to your car in a parking lot, keep your eyes up and constantly scan your surroundings. If you notice anything that looks odd around your car don’t approach it. Return to the store you just exited and ask for help or for them to call security or the police. If you are already in your car when you first notice something that is wrong with your vehicle, call for help with your phone…and immediately start blowing your horn and flashing your lights! Draw as much attention to yourself as you can…but DO NOT EXIT THE VEHICLE!
Women Asking for Help Scam
Unfortunately, sex-traffickers are also increasing the psychological sophistication of the “scams” they use to trick their intended victims. It is becoming increasingly common for other women to be used to gain trust and put the target at ease by female compatriots making the initial approach.
The ruse may be a simple request to use the victim’s phone to make an emergency call because their phone is dead. It could be a request for them to help with an insignificant task. Perhaps they need change for the valet or help with directions. The entire effort is designed to get the victim to NOT focus on their surroundings and to portray the appearance to anyone else that these women are comfortable with each other and may even be acquaintances.
At the first possible chance, they are forced into a vehicle that simply slows down beside them which then speeds away. It is imperative that women recognize this new dynamic in the ever-expanding repertories of techniques, tricks and scams that sex-traffickers are using. Unfortunately, you can no longer conclude that anyone approaching you, male or female is not a threat. Simply remain focused on not just them but your entire surroundings. Do not let them get within arms-reach. Offer to call 911 for them if they need help but do not surrender your phone to a stranger for any reason.
Be alert! Be confident! Be smart! Be SAFE!