Shawn Alexander Kelly, left, of Victoria, brothers Seyed Kourosh and Seyed Kamran Miralinaghi, both of Nanaimo, were arrested near Swift Current, Sask., with Shermineh Sheri Ziaee, of Victoria, on suspicion of human trafficking last month. (Photos from social media)

Reports of accused human trafficker sighted in Campbell River unsubstantiated

RCMP issue warning about the fears unproven social media reports can generate

The Campbell River RCMP say that reports of an accused human trafficker being seen in town are unsubstantiated.

Police also advised people to be careful about social media reports because they can lead to unwarranted fears in the community.

Rumours swirled on a local social media page that accused human trafficker, Shermineh Sheri Ziaee, was seen in Campbell River on Thursday, Feb. 20, Campbell River RCMP say.

Campbell River RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre says that while the poster may have had the best intentions of protecting people in the community, it’s also important to recognize that if they couldn’t get close enough to see the licence plate of a vehicle, it would be unlikely they would be able to positively identify the driver properly as a human trafficker.

“If indeed, someone saw an accused human trafficker in the community,” Tyre said, ” we would hope that they would contact the police. In this case that never happened, making it nearly impossible to substantiate any claims of what this individual poster witnessed.”

The Campbell River RCMP recognize that people’s intentions are usually positive, but urge anyone with information of a crime or suspicious person to call the police directly at 250-286-6221.

“In terms of human trafficking or suspicious people,” said Tyre, “the RCMP urges people to have frank and honest discussions with their children about how these individuals operate so they can protect themselves.”

About Human Trafficking

  • Human Traffickers typically target females between 12-16 years old
  • Human Traffickers monitor social media to identify wants and weaknesses to exploit (These can be, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok, and a whole host of other social media sites).
  • When they find a weakness, they will often offer free goods or a solution to the youth’s “problem.”
  • Often times the human traffickers offer free drugs or alcohol in order to develop an addiction.
  • These actions develop a “debt” to the trafficker.
  • Human traffickers then use tactics like threatening to tell parents what the youths have been doing to extort them into providing youth pornographic images or to provide sexual services to the traffickers’ “friends.”
  • Then in order to keep the youths doing favours, they keep images or videos of acts they’ve done and threaten to destroy the youth publically.

“The main tactic of a trafficker, is to make a vulnerable youth feel special,” Tyre said. “Then they work at taking advantage of the youths.”

Most people are not aware that sharing of intimate images without consent of the individual does constitute a criminal offence under changes to the Criminal Code. If you are being threatened with having your images shared, call the RCMP.

Suspicious People

There have been reports of suspicious people trying to talk to young people who are walking.

Typically these people are in a car. Most parents remember the talks of “don’t take candy from strangers” we all received as kids. In some cases, the individuals offer rides or just try to engage the youth in conversation.

It’s important to have the talk with your kids about what to do to keep themselves safe, Tyre said.

Also:

  • Walk with a buddy
  • Don’t engage strangers in conversation
  • Never get into a strangers vehicle
  • If you are approached, don’t engage with the person, go to the nearest safe place and call the police
  • If you feel unsafe, make noise, attract attention, scream for help

“In a lot of these cases, the individuals involved are harmless, but are not aware of the socially inappropriate nature of what they are doing,” Tyre said. “It’s cold or it’s wet and they may actually be trying to help. However, there are a small number of individuals that are not harmless, so kids and parents really have to be wary of them all and not accept rides from strangers.”

For any warnings and public alerts released by the Campbell River RCMP please follow us on Twitter @CampbellRivRCMP

If you are a victim of a crime or have information regarding a criminal act, please call the RCMP directly at 250-286-6221. If it’s an emergency please call 911.

RELATED: Witnesses assist Campbell River woman in danger


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

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