Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline has been seeing a heightened influx of calls from people claiming to have information of perpetrators or victims. But according to the Colorado Times Recorder, the surge of tips isn't due to real-world cases of human trafficking, it's instead driven by a viral online conspiracy movement, namely QAnon.
"Typically, the hotline’s primary purpose is to connect survivors with recovery services such as counseling or legal help," the Times Recorder reports. "Unfortunately, the increase of conspiracy-induced calls made it harder for the Lab to do the crucial work of helping those people with immediate needs."
The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking's Communications Director Craig Nason said that said that between the pandemic keeping everyone home and online and the underground nature of the crime, "it’s a perfect storm."
"Conspiracies like these muddy the water, they use elements of truth and they get people to jump to conclusions," Nason said. "The public perception of this crime influences our efforts to address it. So if that public perception is based in these conspiracies, then we aren’t applying our resources as effectively as we could. Myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories about this crime aren’t new, but this is as loud as we’ve seen the public perception influence efforts to address it."
Nason went on to debunk the QAnon movement's central theme: that a underground ring of Satanic elites are trafficking children for ritualistic sacrifices.
"We know from our work with survivors, trafficking is rarely tied to a nationwide or even statewide ring," he said. "It’s most often someone that the person knows or even a family member who exploits them."
Read the full report over at the Colorado Times Recorder.