Widespread over TikTok, women have been sharing their experiences having nearly been caught in sex trafficking ploys. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” Sex trafficking is a problem not to be taken lightly, and everyday, organizations are working tirelessly to save the lives of individuals from such devastating occurrences.
Unfortunately, trackers have become more advanced and strategic in the ways in which they capture their victims. With technology only becoming more advanced, reports have been made on TikTok of Apple AirTags being utilized to track people, which takes days, if they’re lucky, to figure out they’ve been tracked.
User @angel.edge95 has discussed her experience being tracked on TikTok, luckily discovering the AirTag. The AirTag is often placed behind license plates, on luggage, bags, backpacks and possibly even articles of clothing, — all discrete places in which people never have intentions to check. If tagged, iPhone users will receive an “Unknown Accessory Detected” message on their iPhone letting them know that an item has been moving with them and that the owner of that item can see the location. For non-Apple owners, ‘AirGuard’ can be downloaded, giving the same updates that iPhone owners get if they have been tagged.
Another distraction technique that traffickers try is tying zip ties or string to car door handles. When someone walks out from a store to return to their car, the thought is that they will stop and try to take the string or zip tie off of their car, causing them to be distracted.
User @makenziestarling, as well as many other women on TikTok, have also reported being followed in stores like Target. These people are alone shopping and males will follow them throughout the store. At first the woman thinks it’s strange that a man happens to be passing back and forth, so she’ll leave and go to a different aisle, at which point the man follows her wherever she goes, along with other men with carts to make it look they are just out shopping. They target the woman and the group will often be ready when she walks outside to her car.
Woman have also been asked by men after leaving a store to help them with something and to come to their car. These occurrences often happen out in the open, even in the daytime, and in very public settings.
If you are out alone, please be cautious of your surroundings. Always carry a personal safety product and follow your instincts and judgement. If you feel unsafe in a store, walk up to security, or call the security in the store. You can also call the police if you feel immediately threatened in any potential situation. To help prevent more incidences like these from occurring, call the police to report suspected traps and failed attempts so police can be made aware and remain on the lookout. For those who are victims or survivors, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center for support and services by dialing 1 (888) 373-7888.
To find out more about sex trafficking and how you can help, you can utilize the CDC website and other sex trafficking prevention organization websites.