How can I recognise fraudsters when I am looking for a job abroad?
ATTENTION! Very often the fraudsters may turn out to be people you know and trust.
How can I make sure I will not fall into a labour exploitation scheme?
ATTENTION! The easiest way to get information for free is at 0800 1 8676.
What are my rights in the EU?
As an EU citizen, you have the following rights:
Legal work in the EU is a guarantee that your rights will be respected and that you will receive payment, protection and treatment as an EU citizen.
ATTENTION! Illegal work carries the risk of trafficking in human beings and exploitation.
How can I protect myself against sexual exploitation?
How do traffickers work?
Traffickers promise work abroad, worthy payment and a good life. If is about working in prostitution, they promise safety and excellent conditions. Most often they establish a direct contact with the victim or the victim’s family members posing as a future employer who promises a good job and opportunities for a good income. Victims are ever more often recruited on the internet. As regards women, traffickers win their trust through an emotional connection and promises of a better life and financial stability, they distance women from their relatives and, ultimately, force them to prostitute. Men are drawn in with the promise of a very well paid job which will resolve all their financial problems and will help them support their family in the long term.
Children become victims most often because the traffickers have managed to convince their parents that they will provide them with a better life than the one they have in Bulgaria.
The most frequent methods traffickers use to force a victim to prostitute include:
- Threats for the family and kin;
- Restriction of the freedom of movement through constant surveillance or taking one’s identity documents;
- Instilling fear of and distrust in the authorities because the victims commits different violations, for example prostitution, stealing, using and selling drugs;
- Tying the victims through a financial debt to be paid to the trafficker;
- Isolation and dependency, especially if the victims do not speak the language of the country where they are located;
- Physical and sexual violence and threats of violence, extortion;
- Creating a drug addiction;
- Creating an emotional dependency (through the loverboy method).
How do traffickers involve children?
Over the past years, traffickers have used ever more often the internet and social media – the easiest, the fastest and relatively anonymous and safe way for them to involve youth and children in trafficking in human beings. They do it via fake accounts which they use to attract children and teenagers in online acquaintances and innocent conversations. Children aged 10 to 14 are especially vulnerable on the internet because they do not know the risks on the internet while the traffickers pose as their peers building a whole legend for themselves quickly and easily. Conversations with unknown people on the internet also pose a risk to older children, aged 15+, because they believe that they are grown up and experienced and nothing bad could happen to them. They are also more open to actual meetings with people they have met on the internet.
Traffickers successfully manage to make children feel that they are understood, liked, accepted as they are, even loved. They easily use the loverboy method online – a method of involvement based on love relations and a consciously created emotional dependence. After making the online acquaintance, they very quickly switch to conversations on sex topics with the child. Only within a week of online conversations when the trafficker has won their trust, children may turn out to be likely, including for the experiment of it, to send their nude photos and videos without thinking about the risk they are exposing themselves to. They sometimes even believe that they are in sincere love relations with someone they have only met online. Studies show that children are times more likely to send nude photos (sexting), to get naked on camera in a video conversation rather than do it live, before a person they do not know or someone they know a little. The fact that they do it online, from their room at home, gives them the deceiving feeling that they are safe. They often learn in the worst possible way that, once uploaded, a photo or a video begins their own life which they are unable to control and because of which they become dependent.
What is a loverboy?
Loverboy is the most frequent method of involving young women in trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The loverboy is usually a handsome or charming man who is, in reality, a pimp or a trafficker. He follows a tested model: he begins to entice the young woman with courtship, compliments, gifts, restaurants, sometimes drugs, until she falls in love with him. When she is in love and fully under his influence, he begins slowly to force her to commit petty crime or sexual “services” in the name of love. Gradually, without understanding how, the woman falls into the trap of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Loverboy carefully chooses and researches the victim in order to be able to fulfil her dreams and offer her a solution to her problems. He creates the illusion of a romantic intimate relationship. In reality, it is about
emotional dependency, psychological and physical violence.
How can I protect myself against being involved in trafficking via the internet?
Over the past years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, traffickers have been actively using the loverboy method via the internet and manipulating their victims through online threats and blackmail. In social media, loverboys can process several victims at the same time and they easily gather information about them. Nowadays traffickers use social media as virtual catalogues: they identify their victims there, involve them in exploitation via force and online sexual blackmailing, the so called grooming and sextortion. Traffickers use the enormous quantity of information about the victims’ lives such as education, family relations, economic status, place of residence, network of friends, etc. Even the dreams, desires and problems of the potential victims are published in public posts and supported with photos and videos and, by using them, the traffickers find an easy way to their victims. In many cases, especially when children are involved in online sexual exploitation, the criminals use fake accounts and sexting, they post fake job ads and different offers in job portals the visitors trust, including sponsored posts with attractive opportunities in social media. Criminal networks often create whole websites of fake recruitment agencies and advertise them on social media making them easily accessible to a much larger number of people, including people who are not interested in working abroad.