I almost became a victim of human trafficking
February 26, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Writer and sports personality Brittney Cason thought she had been recruited for what seemed like a legitimate network job covering the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Only days before she left, flags started going up.
posted by dry white toast (94 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Crazy. This is why security of all types is so difficult, from online security to identity theft to personal safety. Most people's nature is to trust other people and to take them at face value, even if we've just met them. Usually, that works fine and makes social interaction possible in the first place. But occasionally? It's disastrous.
posted by ChrisTN at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


She doesn't have an agent who handles this stuff? Or a lawyer?
"She and I concocted a plan to contact the production company in LA directly to check his credentials without stepping on his toes"
I don't know many professional reporters who worry about stepping on toes. Sounds more like an identity theft scam than trafficking.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:51 AM on February 26, 2014


holy crap. that is unbelievably scary.

because it sounds like he WAS legit but also a scam. someone she KNEW verified that they knew him.

good on her and the other girl for contacting the production company.

even if she had directed to it her booking agent, as she says she should have done, what if the booking agent hadn't felt the same red flags?

sometimes it's hard not to be paranoid and to just want to stay home and have everything delivered but that's just the kind of week i'm having...
posted by sio42 at 9:51 AM on February 26, 2014


ideefixe - she and the other girl thought they were being paranoid for no reason because everything else checked out about this guy. as in, they didn't want to 'bother' anyone with their 'silly' concerns.
posted by sio42 at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2014


I'm not trying to be contrarian, really I'm not, but do we know for sure that the endgame of this con was human trafficking qua human trafficking? I don't understand why a Russian human trafficker would go to such lengths to capture American women for the purposes I typically associate with human trafficking, especially when these women clearly have support networks and even public personae. For the ostensible human trafficker, it seems like an extremely high risk to take on, especially when there are easier ways to capture people.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


everything else checked out about this guy.

Because he had a twitter account that mentioned other celebs and his web page looked legit ?!?!?
posted by k5.user at 9:53 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very scary in that if not for the trafficker being brazen enough to ask her to refer another woman then she would've fallen for it.
posted by gyc at 9:53 AM on February 26, 2014


She doesn't have an agent who handles this stuff? Or a lawyer?

People who are just trying to break into a business often don't.

For the record, at the end of TFA she stresses the importance of using both an agent and a lawyer if one is in a similar situation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why a Russian human trafficker would go to such lengths to capture American women for the purposes I typically associate with human trafficking, especially when these women clearly have support networks and even public personae. For the ostensible human trafficker, it seems like an extremely high risk to take on, especially when there are easier ways to capture people.

“It’s a major sporting event in a foreign country, and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries.”

High-risk, high-reward, and, honestly, I bet the risk is less than you'd think if you can claim to be an upright American who certainly doesn't know anyone in Russia who would do such horrible things to these poor women you were just trying to help.
posted by Copronymus at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, per Sticherbeast, I didn't make the leap to trafficking either. It definitely makes more sense with modeling cons (young, naive nobodies that that can be taken with minimal investment and probably would be assumed runaways), but a semi-known person seems too risky to deal with.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:00 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Like Sticherbeast, human trafficking struck me as unlikely as the endgame to this particular scam, which could just as easily be an advance fee fraud ("Turns out there's a thousand dollar rush fee to approve your visa.") but it's not like I actually know anything about human trafficking.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:00 AM on February 26, 2014


everything else checked out about this guy.

Because he had a twitter account that mentioned other celebs and his web page looked legit ?!?!?


...and he was interacting with those celebs and professionals, and because someone she worked with vouched for his work record. That would be the most difficult part to dismiss, I imagine.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:02 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


She covers sports and entertainment, not the investigative beat, so it's not that surprising that she might not want to *start* a relationship like this by stepping on toes.
posted by rtha at 10:05 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


She doesn't have an agent who handles this stuff?

From the article:
I regret taking advantage of the freedom my agency gives me to seek journalism opportunities on my own, as I should have directed this man to my booking agent directly to discuss everything from the moment he contacted me via my website.
posted by ook at 10:07 AM on February 26, 2014 [7 favorites]




Like Sticherbeast, human trafficking struck me as unlikely as the endgame to this particular scam, which could just as easily be an advance fee fraud ("Turns out there's a thousand dollar rush fee to approve your visa.") but it's not like I actually know anything about human trafficking.


Identity theft?

Or maybe he wanted to dupe her into effectively being the Judas goat for a larger group of women? She has a public profile. Public links to her would make his false identity more credible and reel in more women.

But to capture her specifically? Unless some Russian oligarch decided he wanted her (how's that for a CSI-SVU episode?), this doesn't quite make sense given the amount of work he did.
posted by ocschwar at 10:13 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I am impressed. We have gone from blaming victims of scams for falling for them to blaming the victims for not avoiding the scam quickly or elegantly enough. Truly, women cannot win, no matter what they do.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2014 [121 favorites]


Obviously she's not free to discuss the details due to the ongoing investigation, but without those details (What the FBI thinks, why the Production company got their attorney's involved, the status of the investigation, what her friend that vouched for him now says, etc.) in merely reading this article, it seems a bit hysterical to get to "sex trafficking" over any other less nefarious motive.

...but, I'll stop my unsolicited critique of her account here.

Because, having been down similar roads in numerous threads on Metafilter, I can also now see that it is perhaps, just perhaps, my typical knee-jerk male take on the situation, where I feel the need to state she's overreacting or something similar, and on top of that, I honestly (and thankfully) don't know to what extent that scumbags are willing to go to in order to make a buck or "provide" women in the sex trafficking industry.

Finally, (and admittedly no one asked me, but...) since the real advice contained in this article basically states that aspiring actresses, models, and the like should contract a professional agent and attorney prior to accepting random overseas gigs, it's good advice even without the sex trafficking angle, and it has the added benefit that certainly makes it resound more with those who may be preyed upon.

So... good for her.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:16 AM on February 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Not much did check out about him, other than he had a twitter handle and a website, and claimed to be affiliated with a production company. "Someone she knew" doesn't really mean much in this context. I still don't see why she jumped through all these hoops--and her booking agent is not the same as having actual representation with an agency. It's a cautionary tale, but as usual with XOJane, the post isn't actual journalism.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:16 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


So she's a journalist who shouldn't be afraid of stepping on toes, but she's not a journalist because this story is...not journalistic, and she jumped through all these hoops but not enough hoops and she's having an agent in the wrong way. Okay.
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on February 26, 2014 [25 favorites]


'm not trying to be contrarian, really I'm not, but do we know for sure that the endgame of this con was human trafficking qua human trafficking? I don't understand why a Russian human trafficker would go to such lengths to capture American women for the purposes I typically associate with human trafficking, especially when these women clearly have support networks and even public personae. For the ostensible human trafficker, it seems like an extremely high risk to take on, especially when there are easier ways to capture people.

Let's assume her intuition was right. Here is, I think, how the ostensible trafficker might think of it:

1. American women would fetch a very high price, globally (God it makes me nauseous just writing that)
2. Once she has been abducted, the thugs who orchestrate these things would not hesitate to ensure that she couldn't contact any family/friends, or that any such contact would be "I'm fine, just travelling around the world"-type false messages
3. Once you're in the grip of a powerful, global organized crime syndicate and your body has become commodified, your will and identity broken down by being treated like a thing, by endless sexual assaults by numerous callous strangers and probably beatings and other kinds of monstrous mistreatment, you probably just focus on surviving
4. They would obviously tell her that if she did contact anyone, the mafia would kill her family, her friends, and that they will let her return after she's earned some amount of money for them
5. They would take away her passport, any identifying materials, and so on, and she'd be forced to live someplace where she might not be able to communicate with others easily

And voila, whatever mafia is involved here would get a lot of money out of her before she either managed to escape or was killed, and even if she did get away, what would she tell whatever law enforcement she could access? Some guy who called himself this common name kidnapped me for 8 months, and here's what he looks like, but I have no idea where he's from or who he really is or who he works for? What serious threat to a global mafia network could come of that?

Why are we so confident that someone, somewhere, would take care of her and ensure that nothing really bad happened, just because someone is an American with a public career? Isn't that a sort of dangerously naive assumption? Isn't that really just high SES, first-world privilege thinly veiled as pragmatism?

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to be sick.
posted by clockzero at 10:21 AM on February 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


Well, I am impressed. We have gone from blaming victims of scams for falling for them to blaming the victims for not avoiding the scam quickly or elegantly enough. Truly, women cannot win, no matter what they do.


re-posted for emphasis, as i couldnt agree more. this might get removed for being meta, but seriously i thought we were better than this people. am i on reddit right now? the article grosses me out and this thread grosses me out.
posted by young_son at 10:25 AM on February 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


It seems really weird to me that someone with her credentials would be recruited by someone she'd never heard of, on behalf of a production company she wasn't familiar with. How likely is it that some unknown production company even has the budget to send journalists to Sochi?

There is a degree of professional gate keeping that tends to go on when you do something like this for a living that makes all this feel really hyperbolic.

I know I have it easier, because IMDB exists and it's very easy to quickly check and evaluate anyone's credentials. But, like, really? This whole story just feels really fake.
posted by Sara C. at 10:33 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems really weird to me that someone with her credentials would be recruited by someone she'd never heard of, on behalf of a production company she wasn't familiar with. How likely is it that some unknown production company even has the budget to send journalists to Sochi?

Sara, you work in film. You and I have both worked in entertainment. Do you not notice how desperate some people are to break into entertainment? ....Desperate enough to not always remember to have their Skeptic Rational hat on at moments like this, perhaps?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on February 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


The question I have is what specifically an agent would do to protect their client in this type of situation. The only thing that made her suspicious was that the guy got greedy and tried to get her to bring friends. Presumably, he wouldn't make that mistake in dealing with an agent, so I guess what I'm asking is whether there would be some specific bona fides all agents would know to check for in international dealings, or would it still be possible that this guy might pass a cursory check.
posted by gimli at 10:41 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's useful to be skeptical, but just about any thread can have somebody shout "fake" in it, and without real evidence I'd day it's a derail rather than a useful addition to the discussion.

That being said, if your spidey sense is a tingling, you may be on to something, so go ahead and dig a little more. If anybody susses out some bullshit, we'll all appreciate hearing it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:42 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seriously, the comments here are terrible. This thread is full of comments pulling apart and judging this woman and her actions.

It seems she should have had an agent, she should have been more suspicious, she should not have fallen for the scam at all, she should have done better research, she probably over-reacted, she probably misread the situation as sex slavery when it was something else... And then the final conclusion "the post isn't actual journalism".

Another clear demonstation of "blame the victim" in action. Well done all.
posted by greenhornet at 10:42 AM on February 26, 2014 [25 favorites]


This is definitely getting too MeTa, but I wish people would be less quick to challenge the stories in the links. Yes, there are various scams and attention-seeking on the web, but there is also a lot of stories by people trying as best they can to describe a difficult situation with complex feelings, and it's depressing to see most of these (especially accounts by women and people of color) dismissed with armchair assertions that the writer couldn't possibly be describing a real situation, doesn't know her own life, is being overly dramatic, etc.

I get that that sometimes leaves us with little to say but "Crap, that's f*cked up!", but that response is preferable to a huge pile-on based on vague feelings and assumptions.

To try and address the link, I really hate living in a world where I have to approach every email with suspicion. It's incredibly wearing, and I don't have it anywhere near as bad as she does.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:43 AM on February 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Not that I doubt a professional agent would have been helpful.
But I have to ask, how? What steps would an agent have done that would have protected her from this kind of scam? A background check?

It would be interesting to understand some of the steps an agent would take, so people who for whatever reason don't have access to one can at least be aware of good steps take.
posted by mulligan at 10:44 AM on February 26, 2014


Mefite Pollomacho hasn't been around much lately, which is too bad (but understandable), since he actually works for the State Department on human trafficking issues and could speak about this from a position of actually knowing something about how trafficking works. It's worth going through some of his comments on the subject, as he writes very clearly about the SOP of traffickers.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on February 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


I suspect an agent would be harder to fool with an Internet-based facade. The article leaves me a bit confused on the point of the person who she worked with, and who vouched for this other person's work record... was her workmate somehow confused about who the person was, or was the human trafficker guy posing as another real person, or was he in fact the same person the workmate thought he was? At any rate, an agent probably just knows a lot more (people, organizations, and just plain ol' experience) than a fairly new-to-the-industry person, and that probably would make a lot of difference.
posted by axiom at 10:55 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


also, lets be honest here: the entertainment industry is not exactly full of the most "professional" of business practices. big deals go down every day in the most casual of manner. comments saying "but she should have known because ________ OMG professionalism thing" are clearly from an outsider perspective and fundamentally misunderstand how these things actually work.

example: recently i received one of the most legitimate, serious business propositions ill likely ever receive from a top 5 publisher and i very nearly deleted it because other than subtle details it was almost indistinguishable from spam. i kid you not, the subject line literally said "business proposition enclosed."

basically what im saying is that this guy was doing a REALLY good fake job and apparently i'd have been likely been sold into manslavery long ago based on the way i've handled business as an "industry professional"
posted by young_son at 10:57 AM on February 26, 2014 [20 favorites]


Here's the Human Trafficking Center's report on Forced Labor at the Sochi Games. Apparently, it is quite an issue:

The need to build world-class athletic facilities, hotels, highways and railways from scratch, coupled with endemic corruption, created an atmosphere that naturally lent itself to taking advantage of foreign workers. As early as 2009, Human Rights Watch documented extensive and flagrant mistreatment of workers and issued calls to the Russian government and the International Olympic Committee to enforce stricter oversight.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:01 AM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Whether it was an actual trafficking situation or not, being careful with offers from people you don't know in foreign countries seems like it would be a good idea for a woman to publicize. Because the next woman might not be so lucky.

And, yeah, the borderline "she was asking for it" response is squick-inducing.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Do you not notice how desperate some people are to break into entertainment? ....Desperate enough to not always remember to have their Skeptic Rational hat on at moments like this, perhaps?

Yeah, that's where my mind immediately went. I don't want to victim blame -- especially since it sounds like she figured it out when the real red flags presented themselves -- so I didn't want to suggest that if she'd been less starry-eyed at the prospect of going to Sochi she wouldn't have fallen for this.

My main thought is really that she's making a lot more of a situation that she knew was sketchy to begin with.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


If her agent learned of this situation and told her, "What are you nuts? Forget about it and move on.", then she probably wouldn't have written this little piece and we probably wouldn't be here doing our thing.

Never mind that her first paragraph about "research" is entirely suspect (especially this friend she "worked with" who vouched for the guy.) Then she says the scammer sounded as legitimate as anyone she ever worked with. Knowing the industry she's in, that's either a completely bold or completely naive thing to say.

But, I agree on the "she was asking for it" angle. That's a horrible way to look at it. She was certainly not asking for this. Nobody who is scammed on the internet asks to be scammed. But some of them certainly take the bait, and she damn sure almost did! If this propels her career, then she was right to trust her instinct that her starry-eyed gullibility has given her a chance to reach an extremely wide audience with an attention-getting and possibly exaggerated headline.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:14 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


what specifically an agent would do to protect their client in this type of situation

to: brittneysports@puckball.net
from: yaaaaaaygent@responsible.com

Hey Britney,

I looked into this Sochi correspondent thing you forwarded last week, and this is really pinging a lot of my sketch alarms.

While it looks like Mr. Skeevovich did used to work for CBS Sports like it says on his resume, it turns out he left in 2008 and that's the last anyone has ever heard of him working in the industry. None of my colleagues here at Responsible Management Inc have had any dealings with him in a talent booking capacity. I'm also a little concerned with the fact that I've never heard of Sportslympics Productions. Not too many production companies have the bank to send a correspondent to Sochi, so it seems strange that this random one I've never dealt with before would be doing that.

I know you're really excited about this opportunity, but it just doesn't add up. Sorry, hon! But we will get you an international gig. I've actually already submitted you for the Paris-Dakar Rally this year!

Talk soon,

Y. Aygent

Also, the reality is that when people who are sketchy come up against an agent, a manager, or even an assistant or really anyone that makes it seems like you are a large conscientious force to be reckoned with, they tend to immediately shy away because they assume that somebody involved is going to see through the con.
posted by Sara C. at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


I thought of this right away. Then I got chills wondering how many times these things go off without a hitch.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it's pretty safe to say that after her birthday spent "talking to FBI agents and lawyers of every kind" that she is in a position to know whether or not this was a likely trafficking scenario. Yes, she hasn't provided details of those discussions, but it seems fairly unlikely that the result of them was "Oh, we think he's just disorganized and a bit desperate and nothing to worry about at all, go to Sochi and have a great time!" If it had been, she wouldn't have written the article.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:27 AM on February 26, 2014 [20 favorites]


Seriously, the victim blaming and doubt spewing forth here are just making me sick. I used to think skepticism was a good thing. Now I wonder if it just makes us all jaded and quick to judge others.
posted by cooker girl at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


big deals go down every day in the most casual of manner. comments saying "but she should have known because ________ OMG professionalism thing" are clearly from an outsider perspective and fundamentally misunderstand how these things actually work.

This is sort of true. In general, there's an inverted triangle of sketch, where maybe the initial inquiry is potentially not legit, but the more you find out about the project, the less sketchy things become. When you drill down and things stay sketchy, or become more sketchy, that's a really bad sign.
posted by Sara C. at 11:35 AM on February 26, 2014


Lou Stuells: I thought of this right away. Then I got chills wondering how many times these things go off without a hitch.

I think it must be extremely uncommon, at least for first-world professionals. If someone with friends, family, and work connections vanishes, there is always an investigation. In this case, what had happened would be easy to reconstruct (the application for the work visa, email and phone trails, etc. would have left an easily-followed trail) and it is likely that any professional would leave such a trail (they would know they would need visas, they would mention it to colleagues, etc.) Given the ratings appeal, I'm sure it would have seriously saturated the news. So if first-world professional women were being lured overseas and trafficked, I'm sure we'd be hearing about it.

It probably does happen with people less well connected to society (runaways, the poor, immigrants, etc.) though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:39 AM on February 26, 2014


We lose track of so many missing just inside the US - overseas would be decidedly grim. The likelihood of an investigation post-vanishing isn't a lot of comfort, really.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


My main thought is really that she's making a lot more of a situation that she knew was sketchy to begin with.

I don't grok what you mean here. It sounds like lawyers for several companies are now involved. They obviously think it's problematic.

And if by "making a lot more" you mean she's writing this to grab attention, consider that maybe she is telling the story to alert people, particularly women, in the journalism/celebrity world that there are people out there who will take advantage of their eagerness to grab an opportunity.

Even if she's making the whole thing up, that's still a message worth repeating.

But you're right, she totally should have kept quiet not raised a fuss. We don't like girls that do that.
posted by dry white toast at 11:50 AM on February 26, 2014 [24 favorites]


yeah i dont know where the idea that any lost person would become somehow become some sort of media sensation came from. a simple google search on "human trafficking in america" yields some REALLY grim results from qualified sources.
posted by young_son at 11:51 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nobody who is scammed on the internet asks to be scammed.

Yet I want to quote, "you can't con an honest man" .. the continued proliferation of 411 scams ..
posted by k5.user at 12:04 PM on February 26, 2014


Any time somebody, without evidence, suggests that somebody who experienced something terrible is exaggerating their story for nebulous personal benefits is engaged in a an especially perfidious sort of discussion. It's a weird sort of after-the-fact victim blaming, as it presumes that if something were really serious, the person who experienced it would be quiet for some reason, and if they have gone public, it must be for questionable motives.

I see it mostly applied to women and minorities who go public with these sorts of experiences, so I presume it to be a shaming and silencing tactic, and therefore contemptible.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:04 PM on February 26, 2014 [26 favorites]


My main thought is really that she's making a lot more of a situation that she knew was sketchy to begin with.

I'm not sure how you can make too much of a situation like this. What was she supposed to do - shrug her shoulders and go 'oh, well, maybe it was just a scam despite the fact that I talked to people about precisely what someone might get out of something like this and go to all this trouble"?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:05 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yet I want to quote, "you can't con an honest man"

This is a cliche, but it is fundamentally not true. There are certainly cons that prey on people's greed and dishonesty, but there are lots of cons that prey on people's much more charitable and honest instincts.

Think about the grandmother cons -- where people phone up elderly people pretending to be one of their grandchildren, in trouble in a far off country and in need of bail money or some other form of financial rescue. What dishonesty in the victim does that exploit?

Think about the sick kid with cancer cons -- where people pretend their kid has cancer to get donations from the internet. What dishonesty in the victims does that exploit?

What dishonesty would be exploited here? The legitimate desire of a legitimate professional in a legitimate industry to participate in a legitimate event that would seem to be beneficial for her career? Wanting to be successful and do cool things in your work is neither dishonest nor greedy.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:13 PM on February 26, 2014 [36 favorites]


The production company was supposedly working with the major network this guy was recruiting for.

And she never said she hadn't heard of the production company. She said they had never heard of him.

Would her agent have called the production company to verify this guy working for them?

This does have the ring of getting a main person to unwittingly gather a bunch more.
posted by sio42 at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2014


I don't grok what you mean here. It sounds like lawyers for several companies are now involved. They obviously think it's problematic.

I think my problem is more with the IT HAPPENED TO ME framing, which is probably more down to xojane, which tends to be sort of whiny/gossipy/hyperbolic in tone in general. There's a sort of breathless "Everything seemed so legit!" angle on the introduction which makes the author out to be a lot more naive than she probably really is.
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a sort of breathless "Everything seemed so legit!" angle on the introduction which makes the author out to be a lot more naive than she probably really is.

Well, obviously as a hardened professional she has no right to be naive about the fact that someone might try to traffic her. And her writing, despite the fact that she was horrified about what almost happened to her, should be sober and say nothing seemed really not legit. I'm not sure how she could win with however she phrased or wrote this.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:27 PM on February 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Do you not notice how desperate some people are to break into entertainment? ....Desperate enough to not always remember to have their Skeptic Rational hat on at moments like this, perhaps?

Good hell - people are desperate to break into anything if they want it enough. AskMe is full of people making crazy financial decisions and risking their mental health just to get through grad school. But we don't bat an eyelash at them because eff yeah academia amirite? It must be easier to tsk tsk an attractive woman who wants a bigger (because she already had local TV and radio experience - she's not a student at a college radio station) broadcasting job.

She did heed the red flags when she saw them. I'm not sure what else she was supposed to do to seem more legit here. Quietly and piously ponder what might have been? Or submit her piece to Medium or Morning News?
posted by kimberussell at 12:45 PM on February 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure what else she was supposed to do to seem more legit here. Quietly and piously ponder what might have been? Or submit her piece to Medium or Morning News?

Be male.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2014 [25 favorites]


I dunno,

Sounds like she did her homework and that's why she's not being sold off right now. Good Job! We're not getting the whole story because it's an ongoing case, awesome, sounds like she's prosecuting them.

Is it 'Look at Me!(tm)' media whoring? Dunno, but it reminded me that Human Trafficking is still a bid damn issue in the first world. Sorry you ladies got such a shit deal on this one, wish I knew what to do about it.
posted by The Power Nap at 1:17 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's a sort of breathless "Everything seemed so legit!" angle on the introduction which makes the author out to be a lot more naive than she probably really is.

Everybody likes to think they're not at all naive. Half this damn thread seems to be people who know, just know, they'd be a thousand times too savvy to fall for a con like this.

I would wager that the author of the piece ALSO thought she was too savvy, and luckily, she was very very very slightly too savvy. But the breathless tone could just as easily come from a place of "look, I mostly know my stuff and came out okay, but these guys are really fucking clever and I underestimated them" as from some weird "oh woe is me a little naive doe in the forest " place.

I mean really, has nobody here ever dodged a major bullet and had a few days of "shit! can you believe that? that was a close one." Maybe I'm just extra dumb by MeFi standards, but I've had a fair handful of those moments in my life, where I'm forced to admit I critically underestimated a situation.

posted by like_a_friend at 1:24 PM on February 26, 2014 [26 favorites]


The thing is, even if she was kidnapped and then it was Huge International Story that ended in her rescue, well, she still got kidnapped, most likely raped/brutalized, definitely traumatized, and the people who did it to her, if they were Russian mafia types, would probably never be caught because Putin's Russia is what it is and the US can't just go in and start bombing when they hurt one of our citizens.

Being a citizen of the US doesn't guarantee your safety. It might mean you get retrieved, eventually, maybe compensated in some way, but the bad stuff still happened to you, and bad guys have a way not getting caught, at least not the high-up ones.

I'm glad she didn't get hurt. I hope that other women are helped by her story.
posted by emjaybee at 1:44 PM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm glad she didn't get hurt. I hope that other women are helped by her story.

Which was my take away. It was framed in a way that could be uncharitably be taken as a "look at this thing that happened to me!" story, but I read it as a cautionary tale. Here's someone who was not going blindly, but doing what seemed to be due diligence on a not-shockingly-weird job offer, and only a couple of missteps on the other end plus some extra checking saved the day.

I get a lot of internal email at work that looks exactly like phishing scams, especially if they are using arcane terminology. I end up calling HR about once a month asking -- did we change this function again? The answer so far has always been "yes," but some of these things might as well have DEARL BELOVED in the subject line for how "not official internal business they look."

So, if this article convinces even one person to take a little more care, and that keeps them safe, then it will be pixels well spent.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:07 PM on February 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


So, if this article convinces even one person to take a little more care, and that keeps them safe, then it will be pixels well spent.

I think this gets at what bothers me about this type of article, though. It reminds me so much of those email forwards from my mom that are all about how women should never do X, Y, or Z totally normal thing or they might get raped. It fosters a culture of fear where we can't rely on our intelligence and street smarts to avoid bad situations, so we should just stay home and not try to participate in public life.

When the reality is that the author used her intelligence and street smarts to realize she was being scammed, and is presumably continuing to pursue her career as a sports journalist in total safety. The system worked, here. It's an interesting thing that happened to her, sure, and in some contexts it could be "educational" for readers, but the framing lets that "education" rest on "OMG THE WORLD IS SO SCARY AMIRITE" and not "ummmm srsly please google a dude before you just rush off to cover the olympics."

I just wonder how many young girls read this and think "I can't ever go overseas or it might be white slavery", or how many older people read this and tell their daughters not to bother to even try, because if they try to go overseas and do an interesting thing it's probably just a kidnapping ploy.
posted by Sara C. at 2:40 PM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think this gets at what bothers me about this type of article, though. It reminds me so much of those email forwards from my mom that are all about how women should never do X, Y, or Z totally normal thing or they might get raped. It fosters a culture of fear where we can't rely on our intelligence and street smarts to avoid bad situations, so we should just stay home and not try to participate in public life.

For me (and, being male, I may be misreading this, I admit), the point is not that scary stuff happens overseas or that women should do "X, Y, or Z totally normal thing." She was approached in an odd but not super-odd way, she checked it out, it seemed legit, something happened that was odder, so she checked deeper and discovered something weird going on. It's not like the State Department swooped in and rescued her; she saved herself (and another woman) from whatever the plan was. She didn't sound at the end of the article like she was giving up on her career or that going overseas was too dangerous to contemplate, just that she has a better set of tools to handle situations in the future. I took it as empowering -- "learn from my mistakes" rather than "OMG never go anywhere!"

As I said, I may be insulated from the true message, but I read it as a cautionary tale, but one with some fairly good advice in it that could help people make better decisions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:51 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's kind of like you didn't read the second paragraph of my comment.
posted by Sara C. at 2:53 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, I did, and I was trying to say that I read the article in your second way and not in your first. I admit that that may be because I don't get told "OMG, that's dangerous!" that much, so I'm not primed for the message. I do think that people in this thread have been really uncharitable toward Cason, and I'm a little perplexed at all the ways people have developed to make this her fault. It seems like the only winning strategy for her would have been not to write the article at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:00 PM on February 26, 2014


GenjiandProust ... I think a lot of parents would read that article as "omg never let daughter out of house" rather than "be cautious but try stuff". Which was Sara's second paragraph.
posted by sio42 at 3:01 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine what about this story would be Cason's "fault". Con artists (and other criminals) literally make a living by coming up with plausible lies. It is great that she eventually applied the right kind of due diligence which was necessary in order to see through these lies. In that way, a good lesson to draw from all of this is good to apply that kind of due diligence to all such dealings.

I would only start blaming Cason if, say, she had been somebody's agent or lawyer, somebody with training and a professional responsibility to spot this kind of thing, and then she had sent somebody into these people's waiting arms. But, that didn't happen, so who cares.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:08 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Questioning Cason's actions here seems really problematic. She didn't do anything wrong and did a bunch of things right. She and her friend likely avoided something bad.

Questioning whether the end-game was actual human trafficking as opposed to some other illegal scam, on the other hand, doesn't seem out of line. Human trafficking generally targets a specific type of person and Cason is more or less the opposite of that type of person. Does that mean it's impossible she was going to be trafficked? Of course not. Does it increase the likelihood that it was something else crappy going on? Yes.

But I still don't understand what Cason is supposed to have done wrong, apart from potentially having a rubs-you-the-wrong-way writing style. And that seems kinda unimportant in this context.
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I admit that that may be because I don't get told "OMG, that's dangerous!" that much, so I'm not primed for the message.

See, and I have gotten this every day of my life, with every single thing I have ever wanted to do.

I still get it.

So I have a bit of a kneejerk reaction to THIS TERRIBLE THING COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME BUT DIDN'T type reporting.
posted by Sara C. at 3:17 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries

American women would fetch a very high price, globally (God it makes me nauseous just writing that)

Citations? Because I'm not buying this. I've known a lot of American women to get sexually assaulted while traveling, but never known of one to get sold. If there was a booming white slavery market we'd all have heard of it. And even if there was, all you'd have to do is abduct some tourists from a hotel; there's no need to try and import some specific person when you have entire tour buses full already there. More generally, sex trafficking doesn't work by abducting someone with a lot of cultural capital and resources -- it works by exploiting people with very few resources and fewer options.

It sounds like there was something illegal and sketchy going on, and I'm glad that she figured it out and now has law enforcement involved. But like SaraC is saying, there's something a bit extreme in some of the claims; things can be plenty bad without going quite that far.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:23 PM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm confused by the victim blaming here, 'cause

1) she's not actually a victim, in that she wasn't victimized, because

2) her spidey sense started tingling, she dug deeper, everything seemed hinky, and now LEO are involved

there's some kind of weirdo mutant tone argument going on here about how she should have written the piece differently. To which I say:

Who the fuck cares how it was written?

Something illegal and hinky nearly happened, to the point where law enforcement is taking a serious look. She (presumably) views herself as a bright, savvy, with-it kind of person, and she nearly got sucked into whatever it was that was actually going on, so it would seem that she would like to caution other people that even if they think they're smart and savvy and with it, they too can end up in weird situations.

Somehow I find it difficult to kvetch about the style of the story when the substance, as a cautionary tale to everyone about checking into backgrounds and stuff before someone tries to get you to go to another country, is actually kind of important to get people to read.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:34 PM on February 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


Sara C, I'm not sure exactly how you propose young women build their knowledge and instincts about dangerous situations without reading things like this account, about how a seemingly legit business deal smelled fishy and checking deeper was the right thing to do. I have worrywort parents and have read plenty of "WOMEN, DON'T USE PARKING GARAGES BECAUSE SOMEONE WILL SLASH YOUR ANKLES!!" linkbait in my lifetime and I didn't find anything at all about this article objectionable. The "system" did work, whatever that means. She used her "intelligence"-- which I would actually call savvy, since I don't think one needs to be stupid to be taken advantage of-- to take care of herself. Where did she get that savvy? Probably from reading about the phenomenon of shady business deals. Like the one she is writing about.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:02 PM on February 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Dip Flash >

American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries

American women would fetch a very high price, globally (God it makes me nauseous just writing that)

Citations? Because I'm not buying this.


Um, what? Citation? Setting aside for a moment the empirical question, how exactly do you expect someone to find going rates for human beings without actually interacting with organized crime?

As for the claim itself: it sounds entirely plausible to me, having lived in the developing world and seen how excited some wealthy men become about White American women. Not all such men feel that way, of course, and not all of those men who find such women exciting have bad intentions or are necessarily the types to pay for sex, but there's absolutely a big demand. I don't think this is the kind of thing that can be easily proven, but it's also not the sort of thing that seems to require an especially high burden of proof.

I've known a lot of American women to get sexually assaulted while traveling, but never known of one to get sold. If there was a booming white slavery market we'd all have heard of it.

I really think you should consider being less callous about this, and perhaps less blithely certain that women who had been abused and traumatized would want to talk about it. If they were still alive. This is not to suggest that there's some kind of silent epidemic, but I think it's rather naive to assume that you already know about any important global phenomena.

And even if there was, all you'd have to do is abduct some tourists from a hotel; there's no need to try and import some specific person when you have entire tour buses full already there.

Well, no, because the hotel (and whoever they might be there with) knows who that woman is. Those people have contacts in those countries independent of the ostensible traffickers. The scenario being presented here is one where a woman is tricked into voluntarily walking into a trap, and the only person who knows who she is in the country she's going to is the person who means her harm.

More generally, sex trafficking doesn't work by abducting someone with a lot of cultural capital and resources -- it works by exploiting people with very few resources and fewer options.

Most of it is probably of that nature, yes, but that doesn't prove that gangsters might try to force other kinds of women into it. It really doesn't prove anything. Mafiosos probably want (I feel disgusting writing this) women they can sell, or sell access to, for a high price, and high-status women (as White, American women are in a global sense) seem like good candidates for that.
posted by clockzero at 4:20 PM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


cooker girl : I used to think skepticism was a good thing. Now I wonder if it just makes us all jaded and quick to judge others.

Nahhh. It's great to have a healthy dose of skepticism. The real problem here is that most people have forgotten the art of tact.
posted by Qberting at 7:12 PM on February 26, 2014


OK, had to stop reading the comments, because the same question kept popping up in my mind:

How many of you doubters are doubting because you don't want to believe that this could be a potential trafficking situation? That we live in a world where even relatively successful women have to worry about this shit? That you simply want to wish that possibility away?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:13 PM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


People very close to me have been trafficked, because I am involved in anti-trafficking stuff. Two weeks ago, we had to call the police to stop someone who had fallen in love with a scammer and was about to send money and meet this person overseas. This is someone very aware of trafficking, but who thought it couldn't possibly happen to them, and certainly not from this wonderful guy....

I've had staff at my organisation come close to falling for employment and visa scams. Smart and articulate women working for anti-trafficking organisations. Some of these places are just really really slick, way beyond googling and calling to verify.

My bet is that she would have gone and worked briefly, then been told that there was this other much better paying job, or romanced into an abusive situation and quickly found herself way worse off.

The classic idea of a white slave trade with the swinging sultan of Brunei. Usually though, it's white women from eastern europe. Her story is a bit of an outlier for being an American, but not the mechanics of the recruitment.

Also - you CAN be a sex worker and be trafficked, a mind-blowing concept for sadly a lot of people. Women are offered jobs that are indirect sex work, like working in bars or as private dancers, then find themselves forced to be indentured sex workers. I know several women who travelled knowingly to bars and sex work overseas and found themselves in hellish circumstances. Why do that? Because a foreign woman is far more isolated and vulnerable than a local woman.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:49 PM on February 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Usually though, it's white women from eastern europe. Her story is a bit of an outlier for being an American, but not the mechanics of the recruitment.

It's not just a "bit of an outlier" for being American, it's her entire situation and demographic which makes it virtually unheard of.

Or maybe I'm wrong. I'm willing to believe that I am. So can someone provide a few examples of relatively well-off, white, connected American women with a certain level of public profile being trafficked? Because I've never heard of it.

There's a reason they target the vulnerable, the abused, the unknown, and those without resources. Because if something like trafficking had happened to Cason it would be front page news across the entire United States. The state department would get involved. Involved seriously. There would be all sorts of trouble rained down upon the heads of whoever was involved. And trouble is exactly what they aren't looking for.

Is it right that someone like Cason would get that kind of attention and resources while the women who are commonly trafficked get very little? No, of course not. But it's the world we live in and the traffickers know it.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean, there was Kristen Bell in Spartan but, well, movie.
posted by Justinian at 8:25 PM on February 26, 2014


I'm not trying to be contrarian, really I'm not, but do we know for sure that the endgame of this con was human trafficking qua human trafficking?

Of course not! But this question reminds me of my own experience when, about 18 months ago, I ended a very long-term relationship that had become abusive. This woman and I had been best friends for over 25 years, and she became verbally abusive towards me, with a quite extreme attack. When I attempted to talk to her about the incident, she redoubled her attack on me. I ended the relationship.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to reflect on what happens when you end a relationship after the early warning signs of abuse: People minimize it. They question the need for such extreme action. They think you're over-reacting. Some of my closest friends urged me to be "compassionate" to a woman whose verbal attacks on me were extended and vicious.

The thing is, the only way to prove you're really truly at risk is to stay around long enough to get hurt. If you recognize risk early enough to remove yourself from the situation, there are going to be people who think you were imagining things, dramatizing things, or exagerrating the danger you were in.

So, I'd have gotten a lot more support after my friend's first verbal attack on me if, say, she'd hit me, too.

The author of this article recognized warning signs that put her at risk. She recognized them early enough to protect herself. Becauase she did that, there are going to be people who doubt the risk existed at all. But the thing is, we need to encourage people, women especially, to act based on these kinds of signals, because if you wait until there's irrefutable proof that you're in danger, you've waited too long. Because the irrefutable proof is your injury, your rape, your death.

Maybe this guy was "only" running some kind of identity-theft scam. So what? Our reaction should be, "Good for you for figuring this out. Good for you for protecting yourself. Good for you for telling your story even if you maybe felt kind of embarrassed that you'd been played.
posted by not that girl at 8:29 PM on February 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


We should not presume our ignorance for expertise nor our naivity for educated skepticism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:38 PM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


That's deep, man. Deep.
posted by Justinian at 8:49 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It might be worth revisiting the Russian visitors thread linked to upthread. There was one person in the thread adamant that it was impossible these young women were at risk of being trafficked, and even went so far as to visit the bar where the women were to meet with their employers and declared that no way was it a front for anything.

Turned out he was wrong. Unless we have actual expertise in the world of human trafficking, there is a very good chance that our guesses about it are wrong. The author of this story says that the authorities told her she was likely at risk of trafficking. I would not presume to put my ignorance up against their experience.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


We all agree that she'd have ended up in Sochi with no job, right? So this smooth-talking guy had just figured out a way to have an attractive young woman fly to a foreign country with him on false pretenses. Then he doubled-down on his scheme: he was going to have multiple young women fly to Sochi with him. At this point he would have to tell them that the deal was off, for whatever reason, and they'd be in a foreign country with dodgy work visas. They'd be very vulnerable to whatever pressure he could put on them, and I bet you rubles to radishes that his plans included sex.

This is not very far from the classic sex slave scenario: foreign country, illegal presence, dependence on an authority figure. How hard would it be for him to get hold of their passports? Not very: they might even hand them over willingly if he said that he needed to get their visas fixed. At which point, if you will excuse the expression, they are fscked.

In the very best scenario, he had no malicious plan in mind: he had just come up with a grandiose scheme to visit the Olympics with an attractive woman who wouldn't have come with him otherwise. This might be the truth. There are lots of crazy people around. In the very worst scenario it was a plot to effectively kidnap a bunch of young American women. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between, but that doesn't really matter: the very best scenario reveals a plan to deceive and entrap someone and, presumably, coerce them into sex.

So yes, this isn't necessarily your tabloid journalist's typical sex-slave story, but it's a matter of degree rather than kind. And it might not even be a matter of degree: we don't know that he didn't have further arrangements prepared in Russia.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:13 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't want to victim blame -- especially since it sounds like she figured it out when the real red flags presented themselves -- so I didn't want to suggest that if she'd been less starry-eyed at the prospect of going to Sochi she wouldn't have fallen for this. My main thought is really that she's making a lot more of a situation that she knew was sketchy to begin with.

So you don't want to victim-blame....but you do want to blame her for being hysterical?

Well, shit, if I'd just come close to abduction I'd be freaking out too, wouldn't anyone?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 AM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


And wait, what do you think "I think she's making more out of a situation that she knew was sketchy to begin with" is if it's not "victim blaming"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a perfectly fine article about a horrible subject on a not-great website, and especially as it concerns an ongoing investigation I don't think there's any reason to call fake on any of it. She may not be right about their final plans for her in Sochi, but that's not her lying, that's her speculating based on what she's been told by informed people about the subject.

The only thing I might be unsure of is whether the Internet Fake Brigade is calling it out as a minimising or silencing tactic, or whether it's just the way most articles that deviate from a regular human existence invite blares of Fakedom from people who are anxious to not be fooled and can't really fathom just how weird, or fucked up, people and this world can be.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:49 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


My guess is this guy was just posing as the guy from Twitter with the industry connections. This whole thing sounds like an identity theft scheme at best and a kidnapping/robbery/rape attempt at worst.
posted by I-baLL at 6:13 AM on February 27, 2014


I don't think there's any reason to call fake on any of it.

I don't think there's anything fake about it at all -- she was targeted for what was at least a scam of some kind and might have been for something really terrible, she spotted the warning signs, and she is working with law enforcement to investigate the situation.

But what is laughable is the odd claim (which comes not from the author but from an activist she quotes, and then was repeated here in various ways) that high status American women are worth more as trafficking victims. That's just not how trafficking works, unless you stretch the definition in odd ways. To the limited extent that the US is a sending country for trafficking, it's not morning newscasters who are being bought and sold.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:02 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


people who are anxious to not be fooled and can't really fathom just how weird, or fucked up, people and this world can be.

I've really been trying to figure out why TFA and the response of anti-haters here bugs me so much (the shouting women down etc).

From TFA, what I really get is: this is some internet scam. The kind that happens on large scales across the internet, each and every day. Scammers find vulnerable people, something they can leverage. Be it greed (419 scams), work-from-home (big $, little work as a mule) or other desires, they'll find the right button to push to get someone. (I'd love to think "I'll never fall for that", but might not be self-aware enough to know what my buttons are )

This woman's desire was to move up in the biz. Scammer found her, knew her buttons, and almost snookered her. She found out and tells her story.

But, really, it's not a lot different than any of the many other stories. Except for most, they end before they even begin with "I deleted this email from some random person that was promising me unicorns, rainbows and a pot of gold".

Knowing and believing that, the whole "I was almost made a sex slave" feels like a sensationalist sound bite/link bait. And it's worked. I think that bit is a red-herring. This really is a "I was almost scammed off the internet" story, but presented in way to be more shocking.

If someone more knowledgeable in human trafficking could come in and say "well, actually, that is how people are picked up", I'd reconsider. My layman's understanding is, no, traffickers don't pick up from the web like this, they find local, vulnerable/exploitable people to ensnare - run aways, transients, poor women in remote areas promised "big jobs" in the city, etc.
posted by k5.user at 7:15 AM on February 27, 2014


If I were a writer and contacted about some bogus sounding gig like this, now I will follow the lead, pack my bags, get ready to go and then stop and write a big alarming article about how I was "almost" kidnapped and sold into a life of erotic servitude. As opposed to my first reaction which would be to delete the email, fart, and carry on with my day.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, I'd have gotten a lot more support after my friend's first verbal attack on me if, say, she'd hit me, too.

Yeah, maybe, but it would have been mixed with you having to eat crow for sticking around after somebody verbally abused you - and then went on to hit you? When anyone else would have seen it a mile away?

You'd have been told you needed therapy to figure out why you choose to get into relationships with people who are obviously going to hit you, and why your self-esteem is so low as to put up with verbal abuse, and on and on.

Of course, there must be somebody out there who's figured out how to be the perfect victim, but they are not known to me.

Meanwhile, the author of the original article extricated herself from a situation that law enforcement apparently confirms was dodgy as all get out, then published an article about it in a crappy yet fairly popular website, in a style appropriate for the publication venue. Eh. Memo to all performers to be that much more skeptical of gigs that don't go through your agent.
posted by tel3path at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ok, given the facts of the case, you can't deny it's human trafficking. We don't know why he was trying to get her into Russia, but we do know it was under false pretenses. He didn't work for the company he said he worked for. End of story. He talked her into getting a work visa and almost talked her into getting on a plane while lying about his credentials and the job. That's trafficking, right there. You can't dismiss that. That's a hell of a lot more than "being scammed off the internet".
posted by domo at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, she never speculates on why this person wanted to get her and a friend into Russia. She quotes some lines from an expert on trafficking and notes the connection between the "modeling job" promises and sex trafficking. There are other kinds of human trafficking. We can speculate that it was about sex, but we can't know. Hell, maybe Kim Jong-un wanted a sports caster a la 30 Rock.
posted by domo at 10:22 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


My first thought was that the intent was to kidnap her for ransom.

When looked at in that light, it makes sense that she would be specifically targeted. Her connections become assets rather than risks: all the better for extortion.

Celebrities and their relatives are popular kidnapping targets for this reason.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 10:26 AM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


What domo said. This man tried to get this woman to travel to Russia under false pretences, and also to recruit other women to do so. That's trafficking by definition.

You can say "oh she's an American with connections, the worst-case outcome isn't all that bad" but I sure as shit wouldn't want to be in Russia under the control of someone who didn't have my best interests at heart. Not even under the best of conditions - assuming against all probability that he hadn't confiscated my passport, meds, cell phone, line of credit, etc., and even taking into account that I do actually know the language. Russia doesn't work the way you think it does.
posted by tel3path at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


The kidnapping/ransom thing makes more sense to me.

tel3path&domo; i dunno, "human trafficking" is generally used to mean trafficking for purposes of either sexual exploitation or forced labor. People who are kidnapped for ransom, for example, generally aren't referred to as having been trafficked even if they were moved or lured somewhere.

Something can be really, really bad without being what we general call human trafficking. Whether this was an intended kidnapping or a very atypical case of human trafficking or what we might never know. And this could have been quite serious either way as I implied in my first comment in this thread.
posted by Justinian at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


It does seem like the purpose of the people trying to lure her to Russia is less important than the fact of the attempt, though, which may be getting lost here.
posted by Justinian at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can only speak for myself, but I never suggested that it wasn’t trafficking, nor that victims held for ransom are treated any less horribly than those who just disappear.

What I’m saying is that her story isn’t far‐fetched at all. I do understand “why a Russian human trafficker would go to such lengths to capture American women for the purposes I typically associate with human trafficking” because I do associate ransom with human trafficking.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2014


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