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Unconventional Wisdom: Research Shakes Up Assumptions About Sex Trafficking Clues in Online Escort Ads

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2024

Many investigators fall back on conventional wisdom when searching for indicators of sex trafficking in online escort ads. This article details how recent research supported by the National Institute of Justice reveals that many assumptions are likely unwarranted. The primary goal of the study was to help investigators and prosecutors better focus their limited resources on cases that involve trafficking rather than consensual sex work. This research adds to knowledge about how traffickers construct and use ads when they advertise a trafficking victim, as opposed to ads for non-trafficking sex work. The researchers also created a quick reference guide that law enforcement and other practitioners can use to build trafficking cases and train investigators, prosecutors, judges, and victim service providers.