KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The prevalence of human trafficking in East Tennessee is larger than you would think. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it's the second-fastest growing criminal industry.
Last year, the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking reached more survivors of human trafficking than ever before. 75% of those survivors were female, while 1 in 3 were minors.
CCAHT has reached 150 survivors so far this year alone.
Recently social media posts have been circulating about tactics used to traffic someone. Those involved in the forefront of the fight against it are saying many of those tactics that you see online aren't real.
"The problem is great here in East Tennessee," said operations coordinator with CCAHT Tara Davis.
Davis warns against believing the social media posts showing zip ties or fabric tied to cars or paper on the windshield. The posts often claim they are depicting alarming trafficking tactics. Davis said the posts create a false fear and do more harm than good.
"That's more than likely not someone trying to human traffic someone," she said.
The posts circulate on social media frequently and distract from the actual issue of how traffickers target victims.
"Human trafficking is going to occur more intimate than that. It's going to be a more one on one personal relationship that's formed with someone you meet, someone in your family," said Davis who says traffickers tactics are very nuanced.
"It would kind of be like Romeo. I'm gonna romance you, meet your needs, make you dependent upon me."
It's a long term process that can be difficult for someone involved to recognize.
She said in any situation, always be aware of your surroundings.
"Take the precautions. If you feel something strange, see something funny about someone when you're in the shopping mall, definitely do something about it. Don't dismiss it."
To report possible human trafficking, call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484.