Category Archives: Human Trafficking

Whisper App Interview with a Sex Trafficking Victim

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-victim-chat-1-nameDid you know minors can get recruited into sex trafficking by using phone apps like Whisper? This is one of the most popular social media phone applications used by kids, teens, and adults right now.  What is Whisper and how do you use it? 

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-victim-chat-2

 

 

 

 

After logging into the app and creating a username, our team ran a search for the keyword, “trafficking”. To our surprise, we found a comment posted by an anonymous user  who said, “I am a victim of child sex trafficking”.

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-victim-chat-3

So we decided to contact this user and ask a few questions about her experience to see if she would be willing to answer. Since this application is widely known for its anonymity, we hoped to get a conversation going. We were in luck. We corresponded one-on-one through Whisper’s private messaging service. See the screenshots in this blog. Her responses are in ‘light purple’ and our correspondence is in ‘dark purple’.

In our conversation, the woman mentioned that she was addicted to black tar heroin because of her male pimp. She also addresses that senators and other famous people are involved in sex trading. Then she adds that she was not one of their clients because “only the very best girls got with the rich guys”.

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-victim-chat-4What is the definition of a ‘kiddie stroll’? A ‘kiddie’ refers to a child. A ‘stroll’ is a place like a red light district where victims (younger teenagers and children) prostitute themselves and meet clients.

Human trafficking seems to be a very engaging topic to talk about on Whisper since there are multiple posts on the subject. Check out the 5 most disturbing posts that we found.

If you see suspicious images or statements online, report it to the Internet Watch Foundation.

Unlike many nonprofit organizations in the Midwest, United States and UK, the Internet Watch Foundation is one of few non-profits that has an online form with a website URL where you can easily copy and paste the image link. This is especially useful if you see disturbing pictures of underage youth or potential gang members or pimps on Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Twitter, or Snapchat. Click here to report content.  Or, click here to find out how to search for human traffickers on Instagram. 

Do you use Whisper and have a story to tell from firsthand experience with an stranger? Email us: SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

Reference:
Slang and Urban Dictionary
Shared Hope International Terms
Detroit Michigan News: Tinder Phone App used for Trafficking 
Lansing Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking
Michigan State University Women’s Resource Center

skeptical-world-emoji-sex-trafficking-crown-rose-cherry-heart-airplane

How Sex Traffickers Use Emojis on Instagram

How do sex traffickers use emoji symbols on social media apps like Instagram to sell children and find clients?
  • The profile page or post descriptions will have specific emoji icons. What are they?
  • Why do human traffickers use emojis? To secretly communicate with buyers and potential clients.
  • Can you search a specific emoji on Instagram? Yes! How?
    1. When you login to the app, go to the ‘magnifying glass’ icon at the bottom of the screen.
    2. Type the emoji that you want to look up (use your cell phone’s keyboard).
    3. Click the category field labeled “Top “. In this example, we typed in the “growing heart” image. emoji-growing-heart-sex-trafficking-code-meaning
    4. Now scroll down the page on your phone until you see the emoji accompanied by a hashtag #. The app will automatically add the hashtag so you do not have to type it in. For instructions on how to do this, refer to the screenshot for a visual reference.skeptical-world-emoji-growing-heart-sex-trafficking-instagram
What are 6 ways to find suspected (male and female) pimps and gang members selling minors on Instagram? 
  1. Search by Location:
  2. Check the Profile Page:
  3. Check out their Posts:
  4. Does the woman in the photo have one of these clearly defined tattoos? 
  5. Is there a group of girls in the photo and only 1 man?
  6. What is the girl wearing? Luxury or designer clothes? Or, is she dressed seductively?
    • This is not always a guarantee. Unfortunately it can be difficult to distinguish victims of trafficking from those who are not when observing the large quantity of pictures on the app.
  7. Here’s a few more ideas!

 

Email Us: SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

How Sex Traffickers Use Emojis on Social Media

Did you know sex traffickers use emoji symbols to communicate with buyers and potential clients who are interested in paying for sex? Rather than using words, this can represent the new form of human trafficking language. emoji-smiley-face-smileWhat is an emoji? An icon or image used to express emotion, often used in text messages. A yellow smiley face is one example.

Where can you find these emoji signs? On websites such as Backpage.com (advertisements in the dating section) and social media apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Specifically, where can you spot these icons? On posts, pictures, descriptions, and profile pages.

What are 6 popular emojis used by pimps to sell children?

  1. Crown emoji-crown-sex-trafficking-code-meaning emoji-crown-purple-sex-trafficking-code-meaning
  2. Rose emoji-rose-sex-trafficking-code-meaningemoji-rose-sex-trafficking-code-meaning-2
  3. Cherry  emoji-cherry-sex-trafficking-code-meaning
  4. Cherry Blossom  emoji-cherry-blossom-sex-trafficking-code-meaning
  5. Growing Heart emoji-growing-heart-sex-trafficking-code-meaning
  6. Airplane    emoji-airplane-sex-trafficking-code-meaning

What is the definition or meaning of these coded emojis?

  1. Crown
  2. Rose = the number of roses may indicate price (how much it costs to buy her or him)
  3. Cherry (cherries) = implies virginity; he or she is underage
  4. Growing Heart = victim is a minor under 18 years old; “child-like”
  5. Airplane = ‘new in town’; the buyer must travel to the designated city where the victim is located

Whether you’re a woman, man, teen, young adult, or parent, it’s important to educate yourself on the forensics of these ‘hidden’ codes used by perpetrators. Why is it important to understand this? Understanding one aspect of a pimp’s online communication strategy can help you learn what to look for so you don’t end up in his dangerous ‘trap’ or at risk of being kidnapped or coerced into modern sex slavery. Since emojis are digital and used on the computer, tablet, or phone, it doesn’t matter where you live whether it’s Lansing Michigan, Cincinnati Ohio, or Houston Texas.

Reference:
San Diego State University Researchers Crack the Code
The Cut: Emoji Sexting Glossary 
AOL: Use Emojis to Sell Children 
KDVR Fox 31 Denver

Email Us – SkepticalWorld@gmail.com

5 ways to Spot Sex Trafficking Victims in Public in Michigan?

How can you identify sex trafficking victims in public places within Michigan?

It’s been documented that human trafficking occurs during big events such as the Detroit Car and Auto Show, ArtPrize in Grand Rapids MI,  and sporting games such as the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, All Star Baseball Week, Nascar. There is also the possibility for this targeted attention at the Lansing Common Ground Festival and other music festivals and concert tours around the Midwest where there is a big gathering of hundreds of people. Specifically, any event where the majority of the audience or crowd is male. Just this year, the FBI tracked down a sting at the Detroit Car Show and arrested 4 pimps and rescued victims who were both young children and adults. 

crains-detroit--Michigan-business-car-show-crowd
Detroit Car Show, Photo Courtesy of Crains Detroit Business

How do we know this happens? The online sex ads tend to increase in number in the dating section of Backpage.com and other websites before and during these popular events. The ads are usually in the form of an escort service. Who are the clients? Rich or wealthy white men. An article from WSMV-TV Nashville interviewed Sabrina Bishop from Pennyrile Allied Community Services who commented on the following:

“The traffickers will brand,” Bishop said. “If you see three or four women with the same tattoo, the exact same name, font, colors, it’s a big red flag.”

5 Ways to Spot Suspected Victims of Sex Trafficking in Public – What do they look like? What is their physical appearance? What is their behavior or how do they act?

  1. Does she have tattoos or is she ‘branded’?
  2. Avoids eye contact.
    • The victim may seem shy, paranoid, or anxious.
  3. Never alone.
    • A group of girls with one man acting as the leader (pimp).
    • Does he look much older than the women? Is she much younger than him?
  4. Fashion
    1. Is the woman wearing designer or luxury clothes, dresses, shoes?
    2. Is the female wearing expensive accessories like a watch or Jewelry?
    3. Is her hair done?
    4. Does she have a manicure or pedicure?
  5. Bruises (though not always the case)
    • Scars, burns, or bruises on the body from physical force or trauma
artprize-grand-rapids-mi-crowd-people
Photo Courtesy of Artprize Daily

Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

Reference
Patch.com: Teens Rescued During Detroit Auto Show
16 People Arrested in Sex Trade Stings During Detroit Car Show
KETV 7 Omaha: Large Events Raise Local Levels in Trafficking 
WSMV TV 
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
9 Telltale Signs Presence of a Sex Slave
SAS Spreads Awareness

ABC 10 News San Diego

skeptical-world-woman-female-girl-silhouette-monochrome

5 Disturbing ‘Sex Trafficking’ Posts on Whisper App?

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-disturbing-1Whisper is one of the most popular social media phone apps today. Whether you live in a town like Lansing Michigan in the Midwest, a large city, or in another country outside the United States, you can connect with thousands of men and women ranging in age from middle school children to college students to older adults.

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-disturbing-3Why is this app such a big deal? Because users can post anonymously without repercussions. They can rant, bully, vent, and say whatever they feel to an active audience who will listen and reply back.

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-disturbing-5

 

 

What types of comments are posted online? We logged into the phone app and did a keyword search on “sex trafficking”. To our surprise, we read several disturbing statements from users. See the corresponding images and screenshots in this blog.

After reading through these phrases written by users, it’s appalling to realize that some people still don’t accept human trafficking as a serious issue but rather as a laughing joke.

skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-disturbing-2skeptical-world-whisper-app-sex-trafficking-bucket-list

Did you witness creepy or disturbing content on Whisper? Were you privately contacted by a possible trafficker? Were you able to take a screenshot of the message? Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

Who uses Whisper App: Sex Traffickers?

whisper-app-social-media-screenshot-age-genderAre you logged into Whisper? Parents, do you know about this popular social messaging app for kids, youth, and teenagers?

It’s free to download on the iphone or android. Why use it? Because you can vent or say anything you want to random people worldwide and it’s completely anonymous (when compared to most other social media websites).

When you install the phone app, you create a user name. Every time you post something, your username will be attached to that image or comment. Then you add your gender, age group, and location. However, you can choose to be anonymous by turning off your location (Okemos, Detroit, etc.) so nobody will know what city you are from.

5 ways to use this app:whisper-app-social-media-chat-screenshot-message

  1. Create and post a comment
  2. Directly reply to a user’s comment
  3. Send a private message to a user
  4. Join a chat group based on similar interests, hobbies, relationships, dating, talk with those in your same age group, or join campus groups like Michigan State University to talk with other college students.
  5. Search keywords

So what is the age range of people using this app? It varies as young as middle school to fifty years old. That’s assuming that people aren’t lying about their age either.

Why should my child be careful with who they talk to on this app? Sex traffickers use this app to recruit and target victims.

For example, just two years ago in 2015, a 32 year old male from Grand Rapids Michigan used Whisper to talk to underage minors. He convinced them to take naked snapshots of their body to send to him. Then he met up with one of the females at a residential home in Wyoming. He was later convicted and sent to prison.

whisper-app-social-media-screenshot

Because of this incident, you can see why it’s very important for a parent, guardian, mom, or dad to be aware of the social media tools that their child uses on a daily basis. Did you know sex trafficking occurs in Greater Lansing MI and the Midwest? Michigan is ranked #2. 

Reference:
Cnet.com What is Whisper?
Mlive.com Prison Man Used Whisper to Lure Teen Girls

Have you witnessed or seen suspicious comments on Whisper that could be a sign of Human Trafficking? Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

fawco-human-rights-sex-trafficking-tattoo-heart-barcode

Comparing Tattoos of Trafficking Victims: Possession or Self-Expression?

Sex Traffickers claim ownership of women by branding them with tattoos. How can you tell the difference between a tattoo that is used for possession and one used for self-expression? When comparing tattoos, here is what you can hypothetically look for:

Dailymail-trafficking-sex-tattoo-crown-name-property
Genuine Victim Tattoo, Photo Courtesy of DailyMail
  1. Is the tattoo one of the following gang symbols or signs?
  2. Is the tattoo accompanied by a man’s name, a (street) nickname, someone’s initials, or a number?
  3. Where is the tattoo located on the body?
    • If the tattoo is hidden or in a secretive spot, then this may be a form of self-expression. Why? Because when pimps label their sex slaves, they have two goals in mind: to mark ownership and to verify that other men know whose ‘property’ belongs to who.
    • Think about this for a minute – what would be the point of hiding a tattoo in a secret spot under the clothes if the gang-member wants another pimp to always know who her boss is?
    • Is the tattoo located in an obvious spot such as the chest, wrist, leg, arm, or front or back of the neck?
  4. What size is the tattoo?
    • For example, let’s say it’s a crown. How big is it on the person’s body? Is it small? Giant?
  5. What color ink is the tattoo?
    • You rarely see a human trafficking victim’s tattoo marked in pastel, bright or neon colors. However, it does happen as noted in the picture for “King Pooh”.
    • If you do a Google image search on victim tattoos of sex trafficking, you’ll find that most often (but not always) the ink is a neutral-color, brown, black, gray, or green.
      self-expression-tattoo-chest-diamond-women
      Form of Self Expression

      self-expression-tattoo-crown-color
      Form of Self Expression

Reference:
Toronto Star Investigation: Ontario Canada
Ink180 Trafficking in America
Fawco: Human Rights Bulletin News
Cancer in Cytes: Rebranded by New Life
Controversial Times: Disturbing ‘Crown’ Tattoos

*Note to the Reader: These ideas and suggestions are solely the opinions of writers and bloggers of the Skeptical World website and do not confirm or guarantee information about a victim except to provide awareness into the subject. 

Do you have an opinion or would like to add something to this topic? Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

 

skeptical-world-silhouette-man-shadow

Lansing Michigan: $100 Cash to Pimp Her Out?

Human trafficking occurs in Greater Lansing Michigan. Are you aware of this? Did you also know that Lansing is in the top 6 cities of the state to report the most phone calls of sex traffickers? Currently there are ‘sex rings’ going on right now in Mid-Michigan. Any child or minor can be a victim as well as college students at Michigan State University.

Just recently, a young woman was assaulted, beaten, and sexually exploited by a pimp for three days. How did she get involved in the first place? The female claimed she knew the male and they had been friends for at least a year. Then one day the man takes her to a townhouse in Ingham County at LaRoy Froh Housing on Reo Road near the corner of Jolly and Waverly. At this point, the victim is physically abused by both the pimp and his girlfriend. Then he takes photos of her body to post an ad online.  The next day she is taken to another location and forced to have sex with a random guy who saw the online ad and paid the pimp $100 cash.

skeptical-world-lansing-michigan-victim-trafficking -townhouse
Photo Courtesy of Google Maps, LaRoy Froh Townhomes

Why is it important to watch the news and read about what’s going on in your city? Because you need to understand that kidnapping and modern day slavery does occur in our hometown, and sometimes it’s happening a few miles away at a nearby motel, townhome, or apartment complex.

What can you do to help if you witness skeptical-world-camera-phone-picturesuspicious activity?

If you are a safe distance away, then try to take a picture with your cell phone of the people involved and and a vehicle license plate. Capture a brief description of the men and women involved by noting their physical appearance, clothes, accessories, car make & model. Report this information and your photo to the local police by calling or emailing.

Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com

Reference:
Lansing State Journal: 3 Days in ‘House of Horrors’ Held Captive
Detroit Free Press: Woman Sex-Trafficking Minors
Owosso MI Girl: Victim of Modern Slavery
The House of Promise: Refuge for Women and Safe Place to Heal

skeptical-world-instagram-slavery-sex-trafficking-crown-tattoo-name

How to Find Sex Traffickers on Instagram?

How many sex traffickers are using Instagram to recruit wealthy clients and underage youth for their illegal prostitution business? We may never know for sure. Is it possible to search for these criminals and report them? Nothing is a guarantee, but here are some ideas or suggestions that may help in finding pimps (both of whom are men and women) on Instagram and arresting them:Instagram-skeptical-world

1. Search specific hashtags that are relevant:

  • What hashtag would a rich client type in the search bar to get a ‘quick hookup’?
    • #money #dollars #booty #boobs #sexy
    • #cash #rich #luxury #gold #millions

2. Search photos of cash

  • Someone in the photo might be showing off large amounts of cash or counting  their money (video)

skeptical-world-instagram-sex-trafficking-crown-tattoo3. Search photos of women with tattoos that are carved with the following signs:

4. Search photos of luxury lifestyles:

5. Observe the user’s profile page

  1. When you click on a suspicious photo in the gallery, you can see the user’s profile page who uploaded that photo. Checkout what he wrote in his profile description as well as on his posts. Does he mention any of the following:
    • “Interested in making extra cash?”
    • “Inbox me to make easy money”
    • “DM me” or “DM for a quick hookup” or “WhatsApp Me”
    • “Confidential Services”
    • Note – Chances are, he or she will not leave a phone number. But rather they are hoping to be contacted through the Instagram messenger service.

skeptical-world-instagram-human-trafficking-money

 

6. Look at their Grammar in Post Descriptions and the Profile Page

  1. Is it sloppy? Does it show poor usage of the English language? Everyone uses typical slang but that’s not what I’m referring to.
  2. Here are a few examples:
    • “My girl bouta go shopping” or “just touchd down wit our cuts”
    • In the examples above, notice that some words are missing a letter or not spelled correctly

 

*Note to the Reader: These image screenshots taken from Instagram cannot be identified as actual or real human traffickers. However, it is our belief that these users and their posts have arose suspicion.

Do you have an opinion or suggestion on how to find male and female predators on social media? Email Us SkepticalWorld@gmail.com 

skeptical-world-child-human-trafficking-silhouette

What?! Lansing Michigan has Sex Traffickers?

Did you know sex trafficking occurs in Greater Lansing and near the Michigan State University campus?

How do sex traffickers stay in business? They need wealthy clients and a place to prostitute underage youth. So where do they go? Truck stops, hotels, apartment complexes are just a few places. How do they find rich clientèle? Almost any city has an upper class ‘wealthy’ community and these are the clients. skeptical-world-snapchat-icon-social-media

So how does it work? Gang members will post an ad online to try and sell these minors into prostitution on websites such as Backpage.com or Craigslist. These ads often contain graphic and provocative images of the young person’s body. They will also take advantage of social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram. For example on Instagram, the pimp may write a message in his profile page or directly on the post to indicate how he would like to be contacted usually through ‘DM’ or direct message.

skeptical-world-kik-social-media-appBack in 2015, a 14 year old girl from Mason (Ingham County) was abducted by a 23 year old Michigan State college graduate student named Jordan Ireland. She met this man online. They were communicating through social media apps called Whisper and Kik. Her parents had no idea that she was talking to this older guy on the internet. When she got into his car, he took her to his friend’s apartment at Spartan Village across from the MSU campus, not far from the Breslin Center. This specific apartment complex is often considered ‘married housing’ and presumed to be a safe place to live. The predator took disturbing photos of her body and then posted an ad on Craigslist.com. Luckily, the victim was able to escape shortly thereafter.

skeptical-world-child-human-trafficking-silhouette

How can we learn from this girl’s story? Parents, Guardians, Mom and Dad: It’s important to get educated on the topic of human trafficking in the Midwest. Why? Because it can affect your children at any given time!

Ask yourself these questions and see if you can honestly answer the following:

  1. “What happens when I do not pay attention to what my child is doing online?”
  2. “What phone apps did my kid download on his or her cell phone?”
  3. “What social media websites am I familiar with?”
  4. “What social media applications does my child use to communicate with friends?”
  5. “Is my son or daughter communicating with an older adult who I don’t know? Or, have they ever been contacted by a stranger in the past?”

Talk to your kids about what they do online. You need to be aware of people in your local community because human traffickers are not just men, they are women as well and both have the manipulative desire to kidnap and sexually exploit your teenage boy or girl.

Have you witnessed criminal behavior near or around MSU? Contact the local campus police (517) 355-2221 or complete their online form.

Email Us – SkepticalWorld@gmail.com

Reference:
Detroit Free Press