Beware of Scary Text Messages Circulating in CNY Possibly Tied to Sex Trafficking
Beware of scary text messages circulating in Central New York that are possibly tied to human sex trafficking.
What may look like an innocent text could be linked to sex trafficking and it's made its way to Utica/Rome. If you receive one, delete it immediately.
The text starts with a simple message that looks like it comes from the wrong number. One is from a woman looking for someone she was supposed to meet with, followed by a picture.
Another offers a few surprises, also followed by a picture.
The messages seem legit since they often come from the same area code where they are being sent to. But they are anything but.
Several warnings are being shared on Facebook from people who have received one of the two messages from all over the country, including here in Central New York.
Danyelle Atkinson lives in Hubbardsville and says she got the same text.
Renee Scalise from Rome, New York says she got one too. "I blocked the number."
Police departments around the country are aware of the messages and have sent out warnings against agreeing to meet with anyone. "These people are apparently trying to lure people so they can take them for sex trafficking. Please do not meet with these people," urged the Butler County Sheriff's Office.
Protect Your Privacy
Do not click on any links or give out personal information either. A link may take you to a site that potentially could install spyware or malware on your phone or personal computer. Providing personal information only leads to identity theft and a whole slew of problems. From an empty bank account to a ton of charges in your name that you know nothing about.
Sex Trafficking in America
The Exodus Road is an organization fighting human trafficking. Co-founder and CEO of Laura Parker tells KOAA News these messages are just one of many ways people are lured into human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is not something that just happens overseas. It happens in the United States."
Rochester Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking
Sex Trafficking happens in New York too. 63-year-old Peter Kiwitt, of Rochester, was just convicted of sex trafficking by coercion on March 7. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years supervised release.
Trafficking Task Force
The STOP Human Trafficking Task Force, chaired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has been created to "prevent the exploitation of vulnerable victims and rescue them from the hands of traffickers." It consists of experts dedicated to investigating and prosecuting incidents of human trafficking at both the state and federal levels.
If you suspect human trafficking you should report it immediately.
- Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Anti-Trafficking Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.
- Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.
- Chat the National Human Trafficking Hotline via Humantraffickinghotline.org/chat.
- Submit a tip online through the anonymous online reporting form.
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