Recent social media posts suggesting that two women are posing as N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill students to target actual female students in a sex trafficking scheme appear to be fabricated, N.C. State police say.
The posts alerted N.C. State and UNC students that two female Instagram users were not first-year students at the Triangle schools, like they claimed, but instead were befriending real students in connection with sex trafficking. Several posts told a story of an N.C. State student waking up in a dorm to find one of the women in her room.
But the stories aren’t true — at least not with regard to N.C. State, according to police.
“There’s no validity to those claims,” N.C. State Police Maj. Ian Kendrick said Wednesday in an interview with The News & Observer. “No crimes were committed on campus. We were able to determine neither of the individuals identified in the posts were involved in any criminal activity at N.C. State.”
Investigators determined that one of the Instagram users wasn’t involved in any crimes at N.C. State after speaking with her in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Kendrick said. They also found that no students reported an unwanted person in their dorm room, and that none of the social media posts could be substantiated.
People who saw the posts had good reason to be alarmed.
Though people may not see or recognize it, state officials say human trafficking rates in North Carolina are thought to be among the highest in the nation, The News & Observer reported earlier this year.
“We were happy it wasn’t (sex trafficking) and quite honestly we don’t see where (the reported woman) was involved in any criminal activities, period,” Kendrick said. “It’s one of those things that took on a life of its own on social media, and we don’t know the how or the why.
“The million dollar question is why it got started, and Carolina is digging into that because it seems to have originated in their jurisdiction.”
UNC police also said they met Tuesday with an “unaffiliated female” who was reaching out to students over social media, and that they issued the woman a “Warning of Trespass” from the Chapel Hill campus.
“There was no verified, immediate threat to students or to the campus and, again, no reports (of) behavior which reflect criminal activity,” UNC police spokesman Randy Young said in an email to The News & Observer. “Again, we would emphasize that there have been no allegations of criminal activity; no arrests have been made.”