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Police, those fighting human trafficking warn families of social media dangers

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – Police and those fighting human trafficking are warning families that social media is a fertile hunting ground for predators seeking their young prey.

“They can stalk you from a distance, you know, through social media,” said one Bakersfield police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his department’s undercover operations.

“You know, these predators are looking for, you know, the troubled, troubled girls, you know, ones that have been in trouble, ones that have been neglected by their families. You know, ones they know that they just give them a little bit of attention, then they’re going to be able to begin the grooming process with them,” the officer described.

Veronica Delgado with Magdalene Hope, a Christian group that helps pull women out of the commercial sex industry, said national statistics show traffickers can zero in on a vulnerable target within 10 minutes of getting on a social media platform.

Magdalene Hope founder Doug Bennett also described how easy it is to list “women for sale” on any number of online escort sites.

Delgado said social media is full of angry young girls, posting their frustrations with their families or themselves, that serve as beacons for human traffickers.

Human trafficking survivor Angelica Zuniga told Eyewitness News that online predators are searching for young people who don’t have independence or self-worth.

“They’re just looking for someone to manipulate,” she said. “They’re monsters.”

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