The Lover Boy Scam Technique: A Cruel Form of Human Trafficking That Enslaves Its Victims As Sex Workers
The Lover Boy scam approach is not about getting a victim’s money, it is about their freedom and their life!
The lover boy technique is a cruel and manipulative form of human trafficking that is used to lure victims into forced prostitution. The perpetrators are typically young men who target vulnerable girls and women who are facing economic and social hardship. They prey on their victims’ vulnerabilities and insecurities, promising them love, affection, and a better life. Once the victims are emotionally dependent on them, the perpetrators isolate them from their friends and family and force them into prostitution.
While this is not a new form of crime, it has exploded in the last few years!
How the Lover Boy Technique Works
The lover boy technique typically begins with the perpetrator approaching a potential victim under the false pretense of wanting to build a relationship with her. He may be charming, attentive, and generous, showering her with expensive gifts and promises of a better future. He may also prey on her insecurities and vulnerabilities, convincing her that she is worthless and that she needs him.
Once the victim is emotionally invested in the relationship, the perpetrator will begin to isolate her from her friends and family. He may discourage her from seeing her loved ones or contacting them. He may also make her feel like she needs to keep the relationship a secret. This isolation further weakens the victim and makes it more difficult for her to escape.
Once the victim is isolated, the perpetrator will begin to force her into prostitution. He may threaten to harm her or her family if she refuses. He may also use violence or emotional blackmail to control her. The victim may be forced to work long hours in dangerous and degrading conditions, and she may be kept in isolation to prevent her from escaping.
Lover Boy technique begins in a variety of ways, but some of the most common methods include:
- Approaching potential victims in places where they are vulnerable. This could include places like bus stops, train stations, malls, or nightclubs.
- Using social media to connect with potential victims. Criminals may create fake profiles or use real profiles to target vulnerable individuals. This may look like a real online relationship and use many/most of the manipulative techniques of romance or relationship scams.
- Posing as someone they are not. Criminals may pretend to be a student, a businessman, or even a member of law enforcement in order to gain the victim’s trust.
- Showering the victim with gifts and attention. This is a common tactic used to create a sense of obligation and emotional dependence in the victim.
- Making promises of a better life. Criminals may promise the victim a better job, a better home, or even a better life in another country.
Of course, these are all well-known relationship scam manipulative techniques, but in this kind of scam, they want the victim’s freedom and body!
Once the criminal has gained the victim’s trust, they will begin to isolate themselves from their friends and family using gaslighting manipulative techniques. They may discourage the victim from contacting their loved ones or make them feel like they need to keep the relationship a secret. This isolation makes it more difficult for the victim to escape.
The victim can be captured in many ways.
- If it begins as an online relationship, the trafficker may ask the victim to come a visit them. Once they arrive they are effectively trapped.
- Or if the criminal is local, they can begin the manipulation in person to achieve what they want.
Once the victim is physically isolated, the criminal will begin to pressure them into prostitution. They may use threats, violence, or emotional blackmail to control the victim. The victim may be forced to work long hours in dangerous and degrading conditions, and they may be kept in isolation to prevent them from escaping.
Who They Target
The Lover Boy technique scams usually target young women and men. Both because they are more easily manipulated, but this is also about trafficking and sex work. Victims can be any age from 13 to 30.
The ‘lover boy’ technique is widely used by criminals to recruit victims facing economic and social hardship into forced prostitution. The suspects prey on their victims’ vulnerabilities, enticing them with expensive gifts or promises of a better life. The scam starts with the perpetrators approaching potential victims under the false pretence of wanting to build a relationship with them. Eventually, perpetrators convince victims to move away from or cut ties with their family. Once isolated, the victims are forced into prostitution to earn money for their handler. They are often kept in this situation through a combination of affection, violence, and threats against them and their families.
Using the Lover Boy Technical on Previous Scam Victims
The Lover Boy technique is a cruel and manipulative form of human trafficking that is often used to target vulnerable individuals, including previous relationship scam victims. Asians are particularly at risk of being targeted by this type of scam, as they may be more likely to trust someone who is from their own culture or who speaks their language.
Criminals who use the Lover Boy technique often prey on their victims’ desperation and vulnerability. They may promise victims love, affection, and a better life in order to gain their trust – in some cases these criminals will actually send money to the victims. Once the victim is emotionally invested (groomed, manipulated, and controlled) in the relationship, the criminal will begin to isolate them from their friends and family. They will then pressure the victim into sex work/prostitution to earn money.
Victims of the Lover Boy technique are often unaware that they are being trafficked just like regular relationship scam victims. They may believe that they are in a loving relationship with the criminal, and they may be afraid to leave for fear of losing the relationship, or of violence or retaliation.
Here are some ways that criminals can use the Lover Boy technique against previous relationship scam victims:
- They may promise to help the victim recover their money from the previous scam. Criminals may claim that they have connections to law enforcement or that they have a special way to get the victim’s money back.
- They may offer the victim a job or a business opportunity. Criminals may promise the victim a high-paying job or a chance to start their own business. However, these jobs or businesses are often fronts for prostitution or other illegal activities.
- They may promise to marry the victim and take them to a new country. Criminals may promise the victim a better life in another country. However, once the victim arrives in the new country, they are often forced into prostitution or other forms of exploitation.
It is important to be aware of the Lover Boy technique and to take steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
The Impact of the Lover Boy Technique
The lover boy technique has a devastating impact on its victims. The victims are often traumatized and suffer from physical and emotional abuse. They may also develop mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
The victims of the Lover Boy technique are also at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. They may also become addicted to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the trauma they have experienced, or their captors may also deliberately make them addicts as a control mechanism.
Preventing the Lover Boy Technique
There are a number of things that can be done to prevent the lover boy technique. It is important to be aware of the signs of this type of trafficking and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.
Parents and educators can also play a role in preventing the lover boy technique by talking to young people about the dangers of human trafficking and teaching them how to identify and avoid traffickers.
The obvious answer to this, like other relationship scams in general, is to avoid contact with strangers!
Law Enforcement Actions
Operation MOTLEY was a crackdown on criminals using the lover boy scam to traffic victims from Bulgaria to the United Kingdom for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
9 arrested in crackdown on loverboy trafficking in Bulgaria and UK
Victims safeguarded: 5
Assets seized: Assets worth over EUR 1.1 million, including cash, high value vehicles and property
Modus operandi: The suspects – all Bulgarian nationals, are believed to have trafficked young women to the United Kingdom for sexual exploitation. They targeted their victims on social media and used the loverboy method to lure them to the United Kingdom. Once there, the girls were advertised by this criminal organisation on adult services websites. The criminals routinely used violence to coerce their victims.
Europol’s contribution: Europol has been supporting this case since 2021 by facilitating the information exchange between the authorities involved and providing analytical support to map out the key targets and criminal activity. A Europol officer was deployed to Bulgaria on the action day to assist the investigators with the live analysis of data as it was being collected.
This is a real crime and the impact on victims can be devastating both psychologically and physically. It can lead to physical injuries and even death. But the psychological trauma can be extreme.
As we have seen over and over, the proper use of these standard manipulative techniques can force a victim to engage in almost anything the criminals want regardless of the danger.
Anyone who has been captured in this crime should reach out to a Human Trafficking nonprofit support organization. They have special knowledge about the impact on victims.
National Human Trafficking Hotline
P.O. Box 65323
Washington, District of Columbia 20035
Phone: (202) 745-1001
Toll-Free: (888) 373-7888
Fax: (202) 745-1119
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national, anti-trafficking hotline and resource center serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. The toll-free hotline is answered live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Callers can speak with the Hotline in English or Spanish or in more than 200 additional languages using a 24-hour tele-interpreting service. The National Hotline is operated by Polaris
The Lover Boy technique is a cruel and manipulative form of human trafficking based on scamming that has a devastating impact on its victims. It is important to be aware of the signs of this type of trafficking and to take steps to protect yourself and others from becoming victims.