Social media sometimes seems like a never-ending stream of stories about schemes and plots designed to trick people into harm’s way. While many, if not most of these “scams” are likely just made-up fear-mongering, one TikToker isn’t taking any chances.
A video posted five days ago by AwarenessRITENow (@awarenessritenow), a TikTok account that aggregates videos about human trafficking, shows a novel hack designed to throw traffickers (real and imagined) off their tracks. In it a woman walks through a parking lot and affixes a tissue to her car door handle to “mark” herself.
@awarenessritenow #humantraffickingawareness ♬ original sound – AwarenessRITENow
“Me targeting my car so human traffickers think I’m spoken for,” reads the text over the video.
The video, which has now been viewed over 2 million times, confused many viewers. “Can someone explain please?” wrote one commenter. Another wrote, “What does this mean what are they doing i don’t get it?”
The video seems to be a response to the belief that human traffickers often “mark” potential victims’ vehicles with items like zip ties, grafitti tags, or other such items. When the person returns to the vehicle and inspects the item they are then abducted while they are distracted.
Plenty of viewers were impressed by the hack. User Maia (@maiaaa.is.cool) wrote, “wait this is actually so smart.”
Another wrote, “this is genius.”
Another commenter was horrified, writing,”this is honestly so sad that this even has to be thought that crosses your mind :(.”
However, there may be little to be concerned about.
The practice of marking cars to victimize people has been found to be a hoax by law enforcement. According to USA Today the U.S. Marshals Service has stated that the hoax is “not genuine” and The Kansas Center Star has quoted Celia Williamson, director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute at the University of Toledo in Ohio stating that stories of such scams are “ridiculous.”
While trafficking is a very real problem, victims are far more likely to be misled by people they have come to trust rather than fall victim to abduction. “It’s not about stranger danger, it’s more about people befriending you and over time they get you into situations where you can be trafficked,” Williamson says.
The woman in the video is unidentified and the video does not appear to have been filmed by The AwarenessRITENow TikTok account. The Account states that “I DO NOT OWN VIDEOS POSTED.”
The home page also features a link to the website for The Self Defense Company, a business founded by martial arts instructor Damian Ross, that offers self-defense courses and sells body armor. The Daily Dot has reached out to AwarenessRITENow and The Self Defense Company via TikTok and email.
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*First Published: Jul 22, 2023, 11:33 am CDT
Beau Paul is a freelance writer from Austin, Texas. Beau also wrote narrative and dialog for the gaming industry for several years before becoming an entertainment journalist.