Last week, a social media frenzy erupted over a young woman selling children's books door-to-door in Edmond, Yukon, Mustang, Piedmont, and throughout the Oklahoma City metro. A young woman claiming to be a college student from Europe was canvassing the area aiming to sell educational materials for children and young adults. For some reason, people became suspicious and took to Facebook, posting and re-posting variations of the following message:
"Everyone please be on the lookout for a blonde haired lady in the Yukon/Mustang area going door to door selling 'books'. She's a fake and maybe connected to child trafficking. She ask u info about your children. If she knocks on your door please call the cops!!!! She was seen on a bike and in a black ford Taurus. She also has a thick accent."
The hysteria escalated enough for local news to pick up the story and investigate, and police say that the young saleswoman is legitimately attempting to sell books. Many people immediately think "sex trafficking" when they hear the term "human trafficking," but labor trafficking is another type of human trafficking.
In fact, the owners and managers of 14 7-Eleven stores in Long Island and Virginia were recently arrested for human trafficking after investigators say they brought immigrants from Pakistan into the country illegally and forced them to work up to 100 hours per week, taking the majority of their pay.
Recent news reports have also indicated that door-to-door magazine sales companies also use human trafficking for labor. Young adults are lured from their homes with the promise of quick and easy money, then forced to sell magazines or cleaning products, being beaten if they don't make their quota, living several to a hotel room, and only being allowed to eat once a day.
Perhaps the notion of door-to-door sales involving human trafficking is what led to the misguided accusations about the young blonde European woman selling children's books.
After dispelling the rumor about the door-to-door book saleswoman, police cautioned that it is always wise to be careful of strangers knocking on your door. A number of burglaries in Bethany and Warr Acres confirm the necessity of this caution.
A fake utility crew has been targeting homes in the Oklahoma City area, then burglarizing the home. In a common scenario, the fake crew tells the homeowner that they need to check for branches near power lines in the back yard.
When the homeowner goes to the back of the home, two members of the crew serve as lookout while the remaining crew burglarizes the home. Police say the crew is in an unmarked white Chevy S10 pickup. They are described as dark skinned, and police believe they are members of either the Irish Travellers or Romani--gypsy groups that travel the country conducting similar scams.
OG&E says their utility crews always use vehicles that are clearly marked as OG&E trucks and that they wear bright green shirts and hardhats. An OG&E spokeswoman says that residents are notified 2 weeks in advance of tree trimmers in the area and again 48 hours before they arrive. She said they may not knock before entering a yard unless a dog is present, and they should never ask to enter a home.
Police say whenever you are suspicious of someone showing up unannounced at your door--whether a door-to-door salesperson, a utility worker, or even someone claiming to need assistance--call local your local police department.