Catfishing: An unexpected gateway for human trafficking

Human trafficking victims are often uneducated and desperate. But that doesn’t mean those are the only groups who may be victimized. Our transit monitoring team intercepted an intelligent, mature college graduate who fell prey to the promise of love.

The woman is a 26-year-old college graduate with a degree in psychiatry. We will call her “Danai” to keep her real name anonymous.

Danai has been unemployed for two years, so she turned to LinkedIn to search for work. She met a man on LinkedIn and connected with him personally. They exchanged numbers and started chatting on WhatsApp.

After talking for a while, the two started a long-distance romantic relationship. They got engaged six months after they started dating, and the man convinced her to come and live with him in Germany. The problem was that he never agreed to do a video call to confirm his identity and used three different phone numbers to communicate with Danai.

He claimed to be having phone issues, but his phone numbers had completely different country codes. The numbers were based in Africa, not Germany, and it’s clear that her “fiancé” was not whom he claimed to be.

The man promised to send Danai $23,000, which would be enough to take care of her mother while she lived in Germany.

When our monitor called the man, he claimed to be a doctor in Uganda. He said he did not tell Danai of his actual whereabouts because he intended for them to move to Germany. All the clues and disconnected stories indicate that Danai was amid a scam. Thankfully, she did not lose her life or freedom along the way.

The Beautiful Dream Society transit monitors are trained to look for signs of trafficking in all areas. Sometimes it’s a job opportunity that sounds too good to be true. Other times, it’s a well-intentioned woman who falls in love with the wrong man. No matter what, BDS is here to intercept whenever possible to prevent innocent people from falling prey to traffickers.

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