We have all heard the stories and we all know how they end. Whether it be a broken down car that you stopped to help, a realistic baby doll left on the side of the road or a phony religious group, traffickers are doing anything they can to trap you with their ever-changing tactics.
According to the GlowbalAct.com, 2.5 million people become victims of human trafficking worldwide every year, and of those 2.5 million, 80% are women.
Unfortunately, there have been some instances here at Montclair State University that drew immediate red flags for those who came in contact with people attempting to use those strategies.
For Sarah Naftaoui, a sophomore international business major, the unimaginable situation became all too real right here on campus.
Last month, Naftaoui was dropping her friend off in front of Dinallo Heights late one night when an older woman in a long jean skirt approached her window. She had noticed there was a car not too far away with its hazards on, which she assumed had belonged to the woman.
The woman then proceeded to knock loudly on Naftaoui’s window, put her hands in a praying position and pointed to the sky and then to her car. When Naftaoui finally drove away, she saw the woman get back into her car and turn off her hazard lights. Naftaoui then reported the incident to campus police.
In another case, she also cited running into an elderly woman on campus passing out flyers and asking for the information of those who want to attend a religious event through Montclair State at the Garden State Plaza. When she reported the situation for a second time, campus police said there had not been any event scheduled through the school at the shopping center in Paramus, New Jersey.
Not only are they trying to target people through religious sanctions, but they are also posing as giveaway accounts and following girls on Instagram.
A recent alert reported that a since-deleted Instagram account had been following sorority girls on campus and offering large giveaways. They claimed a girl had won a gift certificate for $700 and asked her to drive alone to pick it up.
The account further attempted to offer an all-expense-paid trip for a modeling shoot. After asking the girl to send photos of herself, they presented reference photos, which were of no professional manner. They were taken in a bathroom.
I am resentful toward the fact that I need to feel on edge or nervous when I go anywhere alone. Knowing that this has not only been happening in my hometown and surrounding areas, but it’s also occurring at the college I go to is terrifying.
Not to mention, I can’t even walk back from class at night anymore. Instead, I have to double my commute time by taking the shuttle back just for my own safety.
In order to ensure that safety, I try not to go places alone, particularly at night. A lot of traffickers approach people in common stores such as Walmart or Target and shopping malls.
Although it may sound dramatic, I always carry my pink pepper spray, which is attached to my keychain, just in case of a real emergency.
Most importantly, I try to stay educated on the situation. I read a lot of stories about what signs to look for if someone were to approach me and what places to avoid going to alone.
If you experience any red flags on campus or anywhere else, call the police and make a report immediately. You could be saving a life.