It seems pretty normal that anyone can get ahold of you by looking up your Facebook profile, Snapchat username, Twitter account, and/or Instagram feed.
It’s also not too weird or unexpected when you see a message from someone you barely know in your DM’s, only to find out later it’s not who you thought they were. So many in our generation can’t resist responding when we get a message that sparks our curiosity—”Who is this person? What do they want from me?”
Instant communication is making the world a more connected place, but it’s also making it more difficult to know exactly who you’re communicating with because of the lack of background information that’s provided, or because you don’t know where they’re communicating from or what their tone is, etc.
The fake profiles can be easily confused as legitimate models
The porn industry can seem simple at first glance, but it’s also multi-layered and can be pretty sketchy. Everyone knows there’s plenty of free porn to watch and subscriptions to choose from. Did you also know there are also Amateur Model Programs that anyone can sign up for?
But one of the newer trends? Companies are targeting and recruiting so-called “vulnerable girls” to work for popular webcamming sites. And the perk being advertised: you can do it right from home while making up to $5,000 a month. But doing what, the recruiters are often purposefully unclear.
It doesn’t matter the age or background of the girl they are trying to reach, and whether or not they’re a minor at all, it’s only about reeling them in.
Men/women are using fake Instagram accounts to get in contact with young girls. These accounts can be real life-hacked model’s accounts that have a huge following or it can be fake copies that try to manipulate and offer job opportunities.
The perpetrators can easily scan their targets by assessing someone’s emotional status through their Instagram posts while picking out “most-likely” victims in an easier way than most platforms.
The DM’s may come off casual, fun, fame-building, uplifting, intriguing and an opportunity to show the world how hot you are. But in all honesty, it’s never usually what it’s cracked up to be.
So, what does it look like if someone is being targeted? Here’s a prime example of a 24-year-old that we interviewed.
This is one of the messages she received:
“It came out of nowhere,” the 24-year-old message recipient said. “This person just kept messaging me. She asked me if I wanted to make extra money and continued to flatter me. She told me that the clients really like the newer models, so I could make more money depending on what the client wanted to see… Not to mention that her Instagram profile was totally normal and she posted about being a mom. If I didn’t already know about scams like this, I could have been an easy target.”
Notice how the message says “webcam,” “show,” “model,” and mentions confidentiality. But, like many other recruiters, she’s purposefully unclear about what exactly she’s offering and asking. Any naive teen may not know what they’d be saying “yes” to. Notice how the recruiter above also doesn’t ask for age verification of who she’s contacting. Sketchy, right?
Unfortunately, this is becoming a common trend.
Many girls fall victim to online scams and end up online themselves
Let’s jump into one example of someone who did say “yes” to an opportunity like this: a normal girl named Sarah was tricked into becoming a cam girl at 18 without knowing what she was signing up for until much later on. It all started with a mysterious message asking if she wanted to be a webcam model.
Here’s her story:
“‘Hi Sarah, thank you for accepting my friend request. My name is Alicia and I am a web model recruiter,’ her first message read. Realizing she wasn’t an acquaintance, I considered blocking her. But then I took a look at her profile photo: a slightly chubby girl in a neatly ironed blue cardigan with straight, auburn hair flowing down her shoulders, adorned by a black headband. She looked harmless. Plus, she was a model recruiter. Maybe she saw that I’d been photographed by that Camille Albane hair salon the summer before? My beloved five minutes of teen-glossy-glory.”
This seems pretty normal, right? In Sarah’s case, it didn’t take her long to get involved at all and the idea of making some extra cash, gaining independence, and distracting herself from her school studies seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump in head first.
What started out as a normal conversation then turned into a lifestyle decision. She was a vulnerable target and had been coerced from taking 3 to 4 pictures to performing and undressing for lots of clients.
At one point she said her identity became blurred between her everyday reality and an online fiction, questioning what kind of scheme she got roped into.
Why do we care?
Believe it or not, live webcamming has become a huge part of the commercial sex industry. And if you think it’s always willing individuals making cash from the comfort of their bedrooms, consider this: It’s been said that it can feel more like a form of forced prostitution.
One girl states that people in the industry were often very cruel and demanding by threatening to leave negative reviews, therefore affecting your pay if you didn’t perform exactly as they wished even if you were uncomfortable. Camming can come with a dangerous side that most people aren’t aware of or willing to talk about.
We care because consumers really have no reliable way of knowing exactly who they’re watching. We fight for those who are vulnerable or are at-risk by raising awareness of the realities of the porn industry. We choose to take a stand on these harmful traps set up by these industries and will continue to spread awareness on the harmful effects of pornography and exploitation as a whole. Although the demand for porn is high, the cost for fighting for real love is even higher.