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Should the Wayfair human trafficking allegations be taken seriously?

Should the Wayfair human trafficking allegations be taken seriously?
WRITTEN BY
07/14/20
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Fact Box

  • On Thursday, A Reddit user posted a screenshot of Wayfair’s website showing human-named cabinets that cost five figures, which led to the user to speculate whether the expensive cabinets were linked to victims of trafficking.
  • Wayfair stated on Friday, 'There is, of course, no truth to these claims…The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced. Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from the site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point.'
  • Wayfair mentioned that they use an algorithm to name their products. The algorithm uses “first names, geographic locations, and common words for naming purposes.”
  • According to the Statista Research Department, 609,275 missing persons were documented in 2019, which contrasts with 814,967 missing persons in 2007 (which is commonly listed as current news).

Katherine (No)

The allegations that Wayfair is using expensive furniture as a front for child sex trafficking should not be taken seriously.

This charge originated from a post on a conspiracy-themed subreddit. One user questioned whether the hefty $14,000 price tag attached to a cabinet showed Wayfair was a front for child trafficking. Offered as further proof of this conspiracy was the connection between the names assigned to certain expensive items and the names of children who had gone missing.

Taken out of context, this information might seem credible. But it's just circumstantial. In context, the 'conspiracy' falls apart.

One industrial-grade cabinet listed on Wayfair at the price of $12,699 was considered to support the child sex trafficking conspiracy because of its name: Alyvia. This is the same name of a young girl who went missing in 2013. What users didn't mention was, unfortunately, Alyvia Navarro's body was found shortly after. She drowned in a pool and is not a victim of sex trafficking.

According to the FBI's National Crime and Information Center, 421,394 children went missing in 2019. This, sadly, is a fairly large number, so it's not surprising that some of the names found on this registry also share names with for-sale products. The high price of the cabinets comes down to the fact they are industrial grade. Durable materials cost more, as Wayfair explained.

The burden of proof is on the accuser. Conspiracists have provided no concrete evidence for Wayfair's wrongdoing, only easily-explainable coincidences. Wayfair should be innocent until proven guilty.


Mandy (Yes)

The human trafficking allegations against Wayfair and their third party vendors are compelling and should be taken seriously.

The number of ordinary items on Wayfair (and other retailers) for sale at extraordinary prices with the same names as missing children is almost mathematically impossible. Cabinets sporting unique names like 'Anabel,' 'Kylah,' and 'Yaritza' are too specific and unique to be coincidence.  

Another piece of circumstantial evidence Snopes confirmed as 'bizarrely, true,' adding to the impossibility of coincidence, is how 'searching for the stock keeping unit number (SKU) associated with these items preceded by the term 'src usa' on the Russian search engine Yandex returned images of young female children.' This combination seemingly triggers the child pornography results.

Pedophiles always speak in code, co-opting ordinary words like 'purple cushions' to indicate types of abuse, food-related words like 'pizza/hotdogs' for victim types (boy/girl), or referencing where to locate content (images/videos). 

What if that's what these are? Directions to find child images on Yandex or another darker source? This is not outside the realm of possibility.

With so many children disappearing and still missing (421,394 as of 2019 according to FBI data), investigation of this Wayfair anomaly is warranted. The Trump administration has taken the threat of sex-trafficking seriously. Since January 2017, nearly 12,470 human traffickers were arrested, and 9,130 victims rescued.

If this was an innocent company posting accidentally outrageously-priced items, they didn't need to delete the postings: any suspicion warrants serious evaluation and further investigation.

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