Police find no evidence of criminal activity in viral "human trafficking" posts claim

Posted at 2:26 PM, Apr 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 11:43:02-04

New York State Police say there is no evidence of criminal activity connected to viral Facebook posts about possible human trafficking at Western New York Walmart and Target location.

NYSP say the individuals pictured in those posts belong to an evangelical group.

According to one of the Facebook posts, a woman was approached by three females at the Transit Rd. Walmart in Clarence, N.Y. The post says the women insisted on teaching her about the bible and that they had pamphlets in their car. The post continues that the woman was then followed by Arabic men until the store manager came and kicked both the women and men out of the store.

The second post mentions a reported situation at the Target on Transit Road in Williamsville, saying the woman was asked to join a prayer group, adding that is was a "group of sex traffickers," and that a Target employee says they're always in the story.

We reached out to both the Erie County Sheriff's office and the New York State Police (NYSP) about the posts.

Trooper James O'Callaghan, Public Information Officer for the NYSP, says "professional businesses report unusual people or circumstances to local law enforcement on a regular basis. This was not reported by Target or Walmart even though the Facebook post claims the manager came out and asked them to leave. This is not normal practice by people possibly being propositioned or management behavior."

State police are reminding people to report unusual activity to law enforcement before posting on social media.

The Erie County Sheriff's department are also asking people if these incidents happen to contact the Sheriff's office so they can open a formal investigation.


Editor's Note: This story has been updated since being initially published. Both the Erie County Sheriff's Department and the New York State Police initially told us that they had received no reports. Since then, NYSP contacted the store manager and spoke to the people in the photo. We have updated the information in the story.


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