LAS VEGAS (KLAS)— President Joe Biden proclaimed January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It’s his administration’s commitment to protect and empower survivors, prosecute traffickers, and end human trafficking.
Ahead of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Wednesday, Crimestoppers of Nevada is sharing the signs to look for when it comes to human trafficking.
Richard McKee, a board member with Crimestoppers, previously worked as a detective in the Milwaukee Police Department on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
McKee said he is concerned by just how much personal information children, as well as adults, are sharing on social media, and how predators are exploiting that.
“As the technology changed, the predators would change their habit, their tactics, their techniques, and they would adapt to take advantage of the latest in technology,” McKee said.
This is especially true of social media where McKee warns it’s so easy to create fake profiles.
“All you have is that picture. Maybe, you have a phone call. But, how do you know that that person is who they say they are?” McKee said.
Scrolling through his computer, McKee showed 8 News Now a website that generates fake photos.
“This picture here is not actually a real person,” McKee said.
There’s also a website McKee pointed out that creates an email address without a person having to give their real name or other personal data.
“And then you can turn that into a social media account because now you got a valid email address with no name,” McKee said.
These tools are concerning to law enforcement whose task is to protect children. However, kids are not the only ones being targeted. Adults often fall prey to online scammers.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, people lost $6.9 billion to internet crimes in 2021.
Still, McKee said it’s easier for kids to be manipulated and groomed online, becoming victims of human trafficking.
“The human trafficking impact on a person’s life, especially a young person’s life, is so difficult for the average person to imagine,” he said.
Crimestoppers emphasize to the general public that if you see something, say something.
Data from the U.S. Department of Justice shows the number of people prosecuted for human trafficking increased by 84% from 2011 to 2020.
If you have any tips for Crimestoppers of Nevada and want to report human trafficking, you can call them at 702-385-5555. You can report your tips anonymously.