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5 Ways Human Traffickers Recruit Victims

by | Jan 5, 2022 | Human Trafficking, Litigation

The Devastating Tactics Human Traffickers Use to Prey on Victims

Each year tens of thousands of men, women, and children fall victim to human trafficking in the United States. Human traffickers use numerous tactics, including deception, force, and coercion, to lure victims into the illegal trade. Today, more and more trafficking victims are being recruited online or via text message, making it even more challenging to track down the perpetrators.

At Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner, & Davey, P.A., we represent human trafficking victims in Baltimore and throughout Maryland. We know the unbearable toll human trafficking takes on its victims and their families. We are here to help you get justice for this atrocity. Contact our office at (410) 685-2022 for a free, confidential consultation. 

1. Traffickers Target Vulnerable Populations.

According to the Polaris Project, a non-profit organization that focuses on responding to, preventing, and ending human trafficking, human traffickers prey on the world’s most vulnerable populations, luring them with false promises through romantic seduction or force. 

Vulnerable individuals often targeted by traffickers include people with:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Homeless youth
  • Runaways
  • Unstable housing
  • Language barriers
  • Mental health disorders
  • Criminal records

Traffickers look for individuals who may feel hopeless or are struggling with dependency. They often target people with financial instability or those in poverty. Traffickers prey on a person’s desperation, promising them independence and a way out. Their recruitment begins early and may involve several different members of the trafficking team.

2. Sex and Labor Traffickers Make False Promises.

One of the most effective ways traffickers recruit victims is by making false promises. They may offer romantic involvement or a job opportunity. They may give the person a feeling of security, giving them hope for a better future. 

The top 5 recruitment tactics according to Polaris for sex trafficking:

  • The promise of an intimate partner or marriage
  • Familial recruitment
  • Job offer or advertisement
  • Posing as a benefactor
  • Through other false promises or fraud

Contrary to popular belief, sex traffickers do not only target women. Men, women, and children are all potential victims either lured or forced into sex trafficking. As reported by the Polaris Project, the LGTBQ community is particularly vulnerable to this form of trafficking.

3. Human Traffickers Often Gain the Trust of their Victims.

Human traffickers use several methods to control their victims. In many cases, traffickers try to gain the trust of their victims. They provide a sense of structure or stability that they may be lacking or they fulfill a particular need.

A trafficker may offer financial assistance or make false promises of love and affection. During the early stages, a trafficker may entice a young victim with new clothes or educational opportunities. A single mother may think she is responding to a legitimate advertisement for good work. 

Human trafficking does not always take place in dark alleys or through force; it can be a subtle process that takes months to complete.

4. Many Human Trafficking Victims Are Brought in Through Force or Coercion.

In some cases, traffickers use force or coercion to recruit their victims. It may be a threat of force or actual physical violence that makes someone comply with their demands. In addition, to abuse against an individual person, a sex or labor trafficker may use threats against a person’s family to force a victim into compliance.

Types of force or abuse that a trafficker may use:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Threats against family or friends
  • Exploitation or manipulation
  • Psychological intimidation
  • Isolation and restraints 

Traffickers may use other forms of entrapment, such as taking the victim’s passport or threatening to turn them into immigration. Victims may believe that they are indebted to the trafficker or that without the trafficker’s help, they may not have the means to survive.

5. Human Traffickers May Promise Love and Affection. 

A deceitful and effective form of recruitment is when a trafficker uses promises of love and affection. Victims may genuinely believe that they are in a romantic relationship with their trafficker. 

In some cases, there are proposals of marriage where the trafficker may “play along” for a short period of time before asking them to engage in some sort of labor or sexual exploitation. 

Why Traffickers Are Successful

Human trafficking is a highly profitable industry. Globally, millions of people are trafficked each and every year. The actual toll of human trafficking is unknown and widely underreported. It exists in every country and is very hard to detect.

Many people have no idea that sex and labor trafficking exists in their city or town. In the United States, most people believe that it only happens in other countries, or if it does happen, it only involves a small sector of the population. Tragically, things could not be further from the truth.

Get the Help You Need Now

If you have been the victim of human trafficking or believe that you have witnessed a form of trafficking, contact our office immediately. We can help you understand your legal rights and pursue compensation against those who harmed you. Call our office at (410) 685-2022 for a free, confidential consultation.

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