PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - "It happens here,” said Jeremy Lewis, Director International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators.
Every day in Tampa Bay, it’s happening more and more on social media.
"These guys will show up in flashy cars. They'll come and flash money,” he said.
"They'll look at their profiles and they'll reach out to them through these profiles and ask if they'll meet them at a location. It could be a restaurant. It could be a night club and at that point, that's where the recruitment process continues and it would be called at that point a ‘break-in’ period."
Lewis agreed to talk to us if we disguised his face and voice. He's former undercover law enforcement and well-versed on catching pimps who abuse sites like MySpace, Facebook and others to recruit and groom local girls for sex trafficking.
"Huge problem. Huge problem,” said Donna Lancaster, President Zonta Club of Pinellas County.
Lancaster says these pimps disguised as online beaus promise girls a better life.
"The traffickers are approaching younger and younger girls, as young as 10 and 11. Middle schools are a prime area,” she said.
Parents can use apps to track your kid’s social website and internet activity. You can also search predators and their photos for free using a new Homeland Security app.
But the bad guys are using technology too to reel-in young girls who aren't as savvy about their personal info.
"There's technology you can download from the internet, that you can hold it over a photograph and it will show the location of where the picture was taken,” said Lewis.
For more information, visit the International Association of Human Trafficking website at www.iahti.org or the Zonta Club of Pinellas County at www.zontaclubpinellas.org or call the National Trafficking hotline 1-888-3737-888.
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