The Big Business Of Social Networking Pimping

by Yesha Callahan

The Big Business Of Social Networking Pimping- Clutch Magazine

Rudyard Kipling’s short story, “On The City Wall”, begins with one simple line, that has defined a profession for centuries. “Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world”, has pretty much taken on a life of its own. Although it’s often incorrectly cited, it can still be applied to the “profession” of prostitution.

Prostitution and pimping have come a long way since 1888. Hell, it’s come a long way since 1998. With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tagged, the oldest profession in the world, is now finding new ways to recruit fresh meat. Social networking has changed the sex trafficking “industry”, by allowing pimps to have easier access to women and girls.

CNN recently told the story of one young woman, that goes by the pseudonym “Nina”, and how she became involved in prostitution, all because of a simple Facebook friend request. Nina had plans on attending college, but she said those plans were derailed because of her mother’s jail sentence.  At that time, she was in a vulnerable state and looking for a way out, when she received a friend request from a guy she didn’t know.

“He sold me the biggest dream in the world,” she says. “I thought he really did like me and we were going to live this fairy-tale life together.”

After a month of corresponding, and then meeting, her so-called fairy-tale became a reality of hell. Even though she realized she was his prostitute, she stayed because she was willing to do anything for the man she “loved”.

Unfortunately, these scenarios are the reality of many women because of the men they come across via social networking.

“Pimps are professional exploiters,” says Andrea Powell, executive director of Fair Girls, an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking. “Often they’re just spamming a whole bunch of girls with messages like, ‘Hey, you look cute. I could be your boyfriend.’”

And just like that, they have a new hooker on The Point.

One story to make headlines last year involved a 26 year old Lorton, Virginia man, who was involved with recruiting teenage girls via social networking.  According to court documents, Justin Strom and others recruited up to 10 high school girls from Fairfax County between the ages of 16 to 18 years-old to become prostitutes. He recruited them via Facebook, Craigslist, Backpage, MySpace and Datehookup.com. According to an FBI affidavit, Strom and his fellow gang members not only threatened the girls with violence, but forced them to take drugs if they refused to participate or didn’t perform as directed.

“Justin Strom robbed these girls of their childhood, their innocence, and their trust and he did that in the most base, vile and despicable way possible.Nothing can ever repair the damages Strom inflicted on his victims, but it’s our hope that today’s guilty plea will help them begin a path towards healing and moving forward.” said Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Strom was eventually sentenced to 40 years in prison.

“Justin Strom was the undisputed leader of a juvenile sex trafficking ring that spanned nearly six years,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “He saw these young girls as commodities and used fraud, flattery, and force to lure them into the depraved world of child prostitution. Today’s sentence is both severe and appropriate. No sentence can undo the trauma endured by these girls, but we hope this sentence will help save others by driving would-be traffickers out of the child sex trafficking business.”

Strom’s case is just one of many that have been brought to trial and successfully prosecuted, but of course there are plenty that haven’t been.  The FBI suggests that parents do a better job of monitoring their children’s social networking activities, even if it means snooping.

“I’ve talked to parents who say, ‘Hey listen, my son has to set up my computer ’cause I just don’t know,’” says the FBI’s Jack Bennett. “That’s not an excuse anymore. You’ve got to know, because it’s your child’s life and their well-being depends on this.”

  • Sasha

    “I’ve talked to parents who say, ‘Hey listen, my son has to set up my computer ’cause I just don’t know,’” says the FBI’s Jack Bennett. “That’s not an excuse anymore. You’ve got to know, because it’s your child’s life and their well-being depends on this.”

    AMEN Mr. Bennett!! When I read about stories like this, particularly in the USA, all I can think of is “how did/ could this even happen?” My heart breaks for these kids but the parents are to blame. I may have grown up in a bubble but I am so thankful for my parent’s constant vigilance in my youth. My mother knows the passwords to both of my 14 and 16 yr old sister’s Facebook accounts, there is only one computer in my parent’s home and its in the family room. Additionally my mother and father drop them off at school every morning and pick them up every afternoon. Any and every outing with a friend is accompanied with that friend’s address and a call to their parents. It seemed excessive and annoying when I was growing up and my little sisters are often annoyed by it but you can never be too careful, the world is a very sick place.

    I hope these girls are getting the help they need from enduring such a traumatic experience. They really need to start throwing the book at the men who pimp women and girls.

  • http://www.urbanexpressive.com J. Nicole

    Not once, twice but al least five times comes to mind when I had to contact friends about suggestive pics/posts their children, or younger family members posted online. It’s beyond ridiculous to not monitor what children are doing-especially when you as an adult are paying the internet/phone bill!

    It is so important for these kids to have self esteem, positive role models and a support system so they don’t need to look for “love” somewhere else.

  • P

    Nowadays it seems as though parents are afraid of their kids. It is our responsibility to protect them and this does involve monitoring their social media accounts. I often communicate to parents even if they aren’t tech savvy, they still need to remain cognizant of technology jargon. I will admit I had to constantly learn the hidden codes (symbols) about drugs and sex. The more I learned, the more of an eye opener it became. It‘s truly another world within cyber space. However, if parents are going to allow kids to have social media accounts, this comes with the territory.

    I think it is sad. If we have child predators in our families and neighborhoods, of course, they are lurking around on social media. The FBI cannot be further from the truth, our kids lives do depend on the parents to stop making excuses.

    Child predators are so cunning and know how to play on these young girl’s emotions. They can sense early on when a young girl is seeking love and attention. I tell my family members they cannot spoil a little girl enough so they can know what true love is. What scares me the most about this big business of pimping is how widespread it is and how young some of these girls are. So very heartbreaking, especially, when you know more preventive steps can be taken to help stop this madness.

  • Kay

    This is why parents and guardians need to be vigilant. There are tons of predators out there. Hell, when I was a teen, there were a ton of nasty old men that used to harass my cousins and I when we would walk in the summer, trying to lure us into cars and Lord knows what else. Bottom line is, you have to get to your kids before they do. If your kids need love and affirmation, GIVE IT TO THEM. Otherwise, they will find other places to find it. If your child needs boundaries, then please, PLEASE, give it to them. They will otherwise then find another authority figure to listen to. In some cases, the authority figure may be a pimp or controlling boyfriend, and you don’t want that. In the end, parents have to PARENT.

  • Barbara

    I do volunteer work with an organization that’s woking to have States pass laws to prevent the trafficking of children for sex. The mean age for girls who are sex trafficked and sold is thirteen.

    Parents need to pay more attention to the “boyfriend” of their daughters, who actually are pimps. They pretend to be boyfriends only to lure the girl away from home and into prostitution. It is so damn sad to see these young girls’ lives destroyed, and to see that they realize their “boyfriend” led them into a deliberate trap.

    Modern Day Slavery for our little girls.

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