One day when I was 17, my phone rang and I answered it to find a man and woman on the other line. “Hi. We are calling you because you filled out the modeling agency form at the mall and we have selected you to participate in our modeling agency,” the woman said. “We just want to get a few more details from you.” She asked me for my name, address, phone number, and other contact details. Then the man said, “What’s your hair and eye color? Okay. Now we need to get your sizes. What’s your dress size? Your shoe size? And your bra size.” I answered their questions. But I hesitated to answer the last one. “We are asking for the swimsuit modeling,” they said. So I told them. “GREAT! You are EXACTLY what we are looking for!” the man said. I was flattered and excited at the thought they had selected me for modeling. But I also had a slightly creeped-out feeling about the whole thing. I felt that something was not quite right about it. But I was not sure what it was. “We will call you back in a few days with further details,” they said.
A few days later, the phone rang. This time, only the man called. “Hi. This is Robert,” he said. “I have been thinking about you and how beautiful you sound. We need you to meet us at the hotel with the other contestants. Can you come meet us this afternoon?” I told him no. Something didn’t feel right about it (but I didn’t tell him that).
He called back the next day, “You sound so beautiful. Will you come meet me at a hotel? Just come meet me. I know you are 17, but no one will ever know.” At that point, I told him no and requested that he not call again.
He called a few more times. Each time he called, I became more adamant. I went from “I cannot meet you. Please do not call me again,” to “I WILL NOT meet you. DO NOT call me again,” to “DO NOT EVER CALL ME AGAIN. EVER!!!” Finally, he stopped calling.
When I began to study human trafficking, I came to understand more about what was going on with the modeling opportunity. Here is how it works:
Human trafficking recruiters place “Enter to Win” boxes in the mall which solicit participation in a modeling opportunity. They then contact people who fill out the forms and have similar conversations to the one the man and woman had with me. When the individual goes to the hotel, to their surprise and detriment, they are lured into a human trafficking scheme. The recruiters promise them fortune, fame and fun and then they gradually ensnare them into a dark underworld of human trafficking where they are threatened, coerced, and/or forced to work for little to no pay in the sex trafficking industry.
That happened 22 years ago. However, the same human trafficking scam/scheme is still happening today. In years since, I have heard from other girls ages 16-22 that they, too, have received similar calls with similar requests. In other words, human traffickers were luring young women into human trafficking then and they are still using the same methods today! Why? Because they must be working on some women. Otherwise, they would have stopped using them.
This is why education and prevention of human trafficking schemes is so important.
Read more on modeling and human trafficking here:
“Modeling Website Linked To Disappearances, Rape, and Human Trafficking” ABC 17 News http://www.abc17news.com/news/crime/modeling-website-linked-to-disappearances-rape-and-human-trafficking_20160823075525915/53416783