Nigerians have been urged to be conscious of the activities of human traffickers operating online via social media, mobile apps and other online platforms.

The Migrant Project gave this advice while noting that human traffickers whose interest is to exploit women, men and children through forced labour and commercial sex, now recruit unsuspecting persons online, often via Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Dating Sites, amongst others.

Recall that SaharaReporters had published an article in January revealing how a Facebook user tricked people into releasing their children to be trafficked into slavery.

Tayo Elegbede, Media Lead at The Migrant Project, said that the organisation had noticed a disturbing rise in the modus operandi of human traffickers.

He noted that predators posed online either as travel agents with enticing deals, recruitment agencies with job offers or as lovers via dating sites and social media platforms, who would build trust before unleashing their inhumane intent.

“They now recruit, groom and control their victims online, riding on the possibilities of digital anonymity which makes it easier and cheaper for them to reach and recruit their victims online,” he said.

Elegbede explained that the traffickers conducted their nefarious activities in structured sequences by establishing Facebook and Instagram accounts, WhatsApp groups, fake business names and addresses to lure unsuspecting victims.

“Traffickers are capitalising on the growing desperation of many Nigerians to migrate abroad at all costs.

“They identify vulnerable persons with low self-esteem, ignorance and an interest in migrating, then reach out to them with deceptive offers. This is always the case of supply meeting demand, however, it often turns out to be sour too fast.”

The group cautioned Nigerians to be careful and report online content, personality or organisation with suspecting offers, promises and operations lacking clarity and credibility to avoid being a victim of human trafficking.

TMP also charged social media sites to improve their community control policies to downplay contents and sanction organisations involved in human trafficking.

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