Local police warn against false human trafficking posts

Facebook posts detailing human trafficking ploys are usually not vetted first.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Social media can be a useful tool to quickly share information, but also a place to quickly spread misinformation. Police are cautioning people to think before they post on social media as posts detailing fake human trafficking ploys continue to circulate causing concern.

“One of the main objectives of law enforcement is to inform the public, we want people to know about real crime threats, trends, and ways that they can prevent themselves from becoming the victim of a crime,” says Officer John Thomas of the Elizabethtown Police Department.

Scrolling through Facebook, Elizabethtown Police says it’s not uncommon to see posts like these detailing a ploy for human trafficking with details like X’s marking the back of a car as a way for the predator to mark your vehicle. But Elizabethtown Police says more often than not, these human trafficking Facebook warnings are not true.

“We do want people to be cautious about making sweeping claims about these things being connected to human trafficking, unless you have vetted a post like this, we strongly encourage people don’t share it. If you think there is something real there, contact local law enforcement,” says Thomas. “Most of them allude to random kidnappings, random targeting of victims for human trafficking and truth be told, that is very rare. That’s just not the typical pattern for human trafficking, at least not in the United States.”

The state Attorney General’s office says more than 60% of human trafficking victims know their traffickers, adding, the false posts apply to more than just the X’d cars, but also to posts describing having wire ties on your windshield wiper or mirror to mark your car.

“Over the past few years social media has really come up with a lot of myths involving human trafficking,” says the Attorney General’s office. “That is not how trafficker’s select their victims.”

Elizabethtown Police says while it is important to stay aware and observant of suspicious behaviors going into the holiday season, take a moment to pause and check with local law enforcement first before sharing what could be a bogus post on social media.

“We would rather get on the front end of these things because truth be told, these posts are often shared thousands of times and seen by hundreds of thousands of people before law enforcement is even aware that that information is out there,” says Thomas. “I can assure you, if we had any suspicion that there were human traffickers actually engaging in this type of activity, we would notify the public. This is not the kind of information that we would sit on.”

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