Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Door-to-Door Kidnapping Ring

The Daily Record [Lebanon, MO]
10 July 2013

LPD, company rep say students are selling actual products

By Julie Turner-Crawford
The Daily Record

Rumors of a kidnapping ring from Oklahoma sweeping in on local families is nothing more than a rumor.

Detective Tim Early, the LPD’s public information officer, told The Daily Record Tuesday that there is a legitimate company in the Lebanon area with representatives who are selling educational supplies door-to-door.

Early said officers have spoken with the persons who are selling products and have found no reason to believe that there is any sort of illegal activity.

He added that there have been no reports of missing or kidnapped children. […]

The Patriot-News [PA]

11 July 2013

Jeffrey A. Johnson

Police in York County said they are investigating a rumor being circulated on Facebook that a group of foreign students selling educational materials door-to-door are part of a ring trying to abduct children.

There is no evidence to support the rumor that the students are involved in any type of scheme to abduct or harm children, according to a news release from Northern York Regional police.

The students involved all attend universities in eastern Europe and are all legally in the country, police said. They work for a company called Southwestern Advantage Publishing Group and police said they have applied for the required soliciting permits in Dover and Manchester Twp. […]

KJTV-TV [Lubbock, TX]

17 July 2013

The Express-Times [Easton, PA]

17 July 2013

Hunterdon County Democrat [NJ]
18 July 2013

KWTV [Oklahoma City, OK]
18 July 2013

By Evan Anderson

MUSTANG, Oklahoma - Aggressive salesmen are targeting metro neighborhoods and some fear the men may have ties to human trafficking. So far, they've been spotted in Yukon, Mustang, and El Reno.

[…] Brandon Bowers, wrote, "What alarmed me was his first words out of his mouth, ‘Hello Sir, I'm not here to harm your family, I just want to show you my product.'" […]

The Chanute Tribune [KS]

30 July 2013

Facebook buzz has prompted police investigations in the Joplin area and in Montgomery County after reports of alleged sex traffickers circulating in the area. […]

The sheriff did say that there is information about people going door to door for the sale of books and magazine subscriptions. […]

Star-Herald [Scottsbluff, NE]

5 August 2013

By MAUNETTE LOEKS New Media Editor

A story about “heavy-accented men” going to homes in Scottsbluff to kidnap children for a sex-trafficking scheme is false. […]

WDAF-TV [Kansas City, MO]
7 August 2013

by Gia Vang

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. – A company in the middle of an internet rumor that’s swept through the metro is setting the record straight Wednesday.

Residents said the door-to-door sales people claim to sell educational books. But they said the sales people are very aggressive and ask suspicious questions, sometimes about their kids. Some online comments have even gone as far to say these sales people are a part of a human trafficking ring.

Trey Campbell, a company spokesperson for Southwestern Advantage, said it all started on Facebook. He said there was a rumor started by someone near Tulsa, Okla. Campbell said it spread from there to others states, including Missouri, where similar suspicious stories popped up. […]

WAND-TV [Decatur, IL]

13 August 2013

DECATUR-A post on Facebook has many local parents worried. It suggests booksellers going door to door in the area may be part of a sex trafficking ring and are looking for children. […]

Reporter-Telegram [Midland, Texas]
21 August 2013

By Paul Wiseman

Timo Aleste left his home and family in the Estonian city of Tallinn to come to America to sell books door to door for Nashville-based Southwestern Advantage. This year marks his seventh summer to make that costly trek, all done at his own expense.

There has always been the occasional, “Go back where you came from,” response from residents, but this year has been particularly challenging due to a Facebook rumor that, according to Aleste and to Southwestern Advantage spokesman Trey Campbell, apparently started at the beginning of the summer in Oklahoma. The rumor was that they were Russians who were asking about the presence of children in the neighborhood in order to kidnap them. As the summer progressed, the rumor grew, and one Midland version insinuated that they were Russian spies. […]

Portales News-Tribune [NM]

23 August 2013

By Robin Fornoff

Clovis police say a warning about a man trying to abduct area children is a Facebook hoax.

The report apparently duped police at Eastern New Mexico University and campus security at Clovis Community College.

On Thursday, CCC Director of Campus Security Freddie Salazar passed along an email received from ENMU police and warning of “individual(s) of potential foreign decent (sic) attempting to sell children’s books … attempting to obtain information about children … for the purpose of human trafficking or abduction.” […]

Anchorage Daily News [AK]
28 August 2013


Authorities getting panicky calls about heavily accented booksellers targeting Valley children are debunking the rumors going around Anchorage and the Mat-Su.

There's no criminal gang of Russian-speaking people using school-supply sales as a ruse to steal children from their homes, they said. […]

KFSM-TV [Fort Smith, AR]
28 August 2013

Alicia Agent

[…] Facebook posts, many of which have since been removed, tell the story of a woman named Becky whose 9-year-old saw the book salesmen knocking on her bedroom window late at night in Faulkner County. The post goes on to say two little boys have already been kidnapped from the area. However, there are currently no active Amber Alerts in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas State Police website.

The same story popped up in Franklin County this week, but sheriff Anthony Boen said his office has received no reports of missing children or suspicious activity in the area. […]

KARK-TV [Little Rock, AR]
29 August 2013

BENTON COUNTY, AR -- A door-to-door salesman is working to set the record straight after a rumor claiming he was a human trafficker went viral.

"His face is out on Facebook right now saying he's this ring leader for human trafficking... It was shared more than 2,500 times in just in a matter of a day," said Deputy Keisha Guyll with the Benton County Sheriff's Department.

"I felt like there was some kind of suspicious thing going on, they think I'm kind of like a bad guy here," said Mirko Kruusma, a door-to-door salesman for children's books. […]

Victoria Advocate [Texas]
4 September 2013

    Jessica Priest

[…] The rumor originated in Tulsa, Okla., after a woman posted something on Facebook in July that was shared more than 10,000 times, said Trey Campbell, the company's director of communications.

"It's kind of like the telephone game," Campbell said. "We did have the originator take the post down with help from local law enforcement, but there's not really any consequences. You can post anything to social media and get away with it if you're vague enough. ... There are libel and defamation laws, but you can't spin your wheels doing that. As a company, we're not going to pursue anything like that. We just want the truth to get out."

The company was forced to pull out of Oklahoma because the rumors created a safety issue for its students, who come to the United States to earn money for school, learn English and hone their entrepreneurial skills. […]

The Sentinel [Hanford, CA]
5 September 2013

Social media rumor makes local rounds

By Mike Eiman

HANFORD — A rumor about door-to-door book sales has some local parents concerned for the safety of their children. Western Christian School Principal Kelly Virden said she’s heard from several concerned parents over the fast few days. The parents reportedly encountered a woman with a European accent selling educational books door to door. […]

KBZK-TV [Bozeman, MT]
13 September 2013

MTN News

For several days, MTN's Great Falls station has received reports of two men attempting to kidnap children in Glacier County. […]

The two men are described as white males, 20's - 30's, tall, blond hair and having Russian accents. […]