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Human Traffickers Luring Ukrainian Refugees on the Web Targeted in EU-Wide Hackathon

14 EU Member States joined forces during a joint action day to identify human traffickers searching for Ukrainian victims online

 

The European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) coordinated an joint action day on May 23 which targeted criminal networks Ukrainian refugees for sexual and labour exploitation via websites and platforms.

authorities from 14 countries took part in this hackathon, which was coordinated by the Netherlands. The investigators monitored different online platforms to detect criminal networks attempting to recruit vulnerable Ukrainian refugees.

On the action day, Europol activated a virtual command to facilitate the information exchange in real time, while a dedicated analyst cross-checked operational information against Europol’s databases. This provided further investigative leads to the participating officers from involved national law enforcement authorities.

The online investigations focused on the monitoring of posts offering help to refugees for transportation, accommodation and work. Dating sites and recruitment websites were monitored, as well as platforms offering sexual services. The countries bordering Ukraine focused on recruitment, transportation and accommodation of refugees, while others focused on platforms offering housing and jobs to refugees. During the action day, investigators identified suspicious advertisements targeting Ukrainian refugees, looked into tips received from citizens, reviewed indicators of potential trafficking of human beings for sexual and labour exploitation and updated their situational on existing online platforms linked to trafficking activities.

One month on, Europol has announced the results from the action day and findings to date from the investigations:

  • 125 online platforms monitored in total;
  • 42 online platforms suspected for links to human trafficking checked;
  • 6 online platforms linked to human trafficking checked;
  • 9 suspected human traffickers identified;
  • 9 possible victims identified;
  • 15 new investigations initiated;
  • 93 officers participated;
  • 351 persons/user names checked.

The monitoring activities led to the identification of new trends, and gathered insights into the threat of sexual and labour exploitation of Ukrainian refugees. Suspicious activities were detected in a wide range of platforms, including in the Russian language. Different platforms were prioritized depending on the specific social media use per country.

Europol says many online marketplaces and websites appear to be taking significant steps to combat the misuse of their platforms for trafficking Ukrainian refugees. However, law enforcement officers found a significant number of suspicious job offers targeting Ukrainian women, some of which were described as ‘photo shoots’. Investigators identified attempts to lure victims through offers of a ‘bright future’, which tricked them into sexual exploitation, or accommodation offers specifically targeted at Ukrainian refugees.

Read more at Europol

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

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ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.