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Human Trafficking

JOSH MCAFEE CHASES THE BAD GUYS (THE REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS) ONLINE

Entrepreneurs are often described in heroic terms. But few wear the white hat as well as Josh McAfee. A former law enforcement officer and loss-prevention executive, McAfee is CEO of McAfee Institute, a Peoria, Illinois-based business that trains corporations and law enforcement agencies to battle cybercrime and fraud. He’s also tackling something far more ominous. Entrepreneur Josh McAfee told his story to Inc. staff writer Issie Lapowsky.

When we started, we were focused mostly on fraud detection and loss prevention in the e-commerce world. But in 2010, when we launched our social-media investigation course, we had our first human-trafficking case. In that class, we teach people from law enforcement agencies and the fraud- and loss-prevention units of businesses how to find bad guys on Facebook and Twitter, and then use the information they find to lead to prosecution. We never intended to go after human trafficking, but we started seeing more and more cases coming through.

One story that will always stick with me was this young lady in Florida. During a class, a police officer asked for advice on identifying prostitution online, so the group started looking on Craigslist. They found this girl and solicited her using an undercover identity. When they arrested her, they found out she was being coerced the whole time by her father. It turns out he was a sex offender, and she’d been chained up and forced to prostitute herself to men starting when she was 13. When they found out, investigators tracked down the father and arrested him.

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