If you still think criminal activity only takes place on the dark side of the web, think again. Right now, 1 in 3 internet users worldwide is a minor. Their online lives are a given; you’d be hard pressed to find a teenager without at least an Instagram, Tik Tok or Snapchat account. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where the danger lurks, as our team in Thailand found out recently.
The Thai team conducted an online investigation through Twitter, Facebook and LINE, a popular social and chat platform in Thailand. The team had a goal: monitor online behavior for signs of situations of sexual exploitation. The investigation was successful: the team found appalling posts advertising sex with students. They contacted the traffickers through Facebook and LINE to get more information, posing as clients. They managed to make an appointment and were invited to come to a resort in the north of Thailand.
When the team arrived, they found three minor girls (15, 16 and 17 years old) being held against their will and sexually exploited. They wasted no time and conducted a raid, rescuing the three girls. The exploiters escaped but were caught by police a few hours later and are now behind bars.
Two of the survivors told the Thai team they were contacted on Facebook messenger by a trafficker posing as a friend offering work. The girls had no idea who they were really talking to, or that they would end up in this traumatic situation.
The Thai team will continue to employ the Smart Rescue method to make sure online criminals can be haunted down and caught, and eventually to always stay one step ahead.