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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

How Trafficking Happens: Exposing the Loverboy Method

Updated: Feb 6

In this fight against human trafficking, we have to combat this evil from all sides. 

We know that we have to be on the lookout for trafficking situations all the time. Awareness is so important. We saw this power first-hand after reporting a trafficking situation in Eastern Europe. Our report put authorities on the trail of a major trafficking ring. Within a few months, 24 traffickers were arrested. 

We saw it when we trained a local business person how to recognize the signs of trafficking and he used that knowledge to help a woman who showed up at his door, running from her trafficker! We’ve trained Border Patrol and Law Enforcement who have told us that they now know trafficking has been happening right before their eyes. But now that they know, they are committed to changing that!

We Must Work Together

We have seen over and over that prevention starts with training. We are working to empower Romanians of all levels of society—from first responders to the general public traveling every day through train stations and airports—how to expose trafficking and stop it! We call this The Freedom Highway, a network of individuals and organizations across Europe working together to combat trafficking, rescue survivors, and journey with them to safety.

We Must Recognize the Methods of Traffickers — This is the Top Method!

We have to know how trafficking operates to recognize a dangerous situation. Today, I want to tell you about the single most common method for enslaving Romanian women. It’s called the “Loverboy Method.”  

This pernicious scheme starts when a trafficker targets a young, low-income woman. He showers her with attention and affection. He asks her out. He spares no expense to treat her like a queen for a while. It’s all part of a plot to win her trust.  

Once the trafficker and the victim are romantically involved, he will invite her on a getaway trip. Sometimes he will ask her to move away with him for “a better life.” Since the woman is usually in love at this point, she often goes with him happily.  When they’re out of the country, the trafficker strikes. 

We Create a Safe Place for Survivors of Trafficking

Often, he will confiscate her passport and documents before taking her phone. He then passes this precious woman off to another trafficker. At this point, the woman has been enslaved until partners like ours across Europe can rescue her and bring her to a place like the first Sanctuary.  

It’s terrifying to think of the scale of this deception. Every year, 250,000 people are trafficked into Europe alone. At least 78% of the survivors we encounter in Europe are from Romania. When we hear their stories, we hear about traffickers using the Loverboy Method over and over again.

We Expose The Darkness and Bring It Into the Light

We are fighting this evil. Together, we’re developing international strategies to stamp out the Loverboy Method. We identify tools for individuals and organizations to identify trafficking methods like these and stamp them out! 

Let’s keep fighting to end trafficking and unlock transformation for survivors. We hold the keys to freedom!

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