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'It makes me ... scared’: Female Myrtle Beach realtors targeted by a possible human trafficking text scam

How does $300,000 dollars sound to you, to become a Victoria Secret model? That's what Myrtle...
How does $300,000 dollars sound to you, to become a Victoria Secret model? That's what Myrtle Beach resident May Barr was offered through a text exchange on Sunday. Barr didn't buy into the offer, quickly taking to social media to warn others and later finding out she's one of at least six local female realtors who received this same texting scam.(MAY BARR)
Updated: Oct. 16, 2019 at 12:33 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - How does $300,000 sound to you, to become a Victoria’s Secret model?

That’s what Myrtle Beach resident May Barr was offered through a text exchange on Sunday. Barr didn’t buy into the offer, quickly taking to social media to warn others and later finding out she’s one of at least six local female realtors who received the same texting scam.

The texts came in from a New York area code, claiming to be someone named Kristy Garrett who works for Victoria’s Secret and just so happens to be a former model and Playboy Playmate. Barr said she knew right away it was a scam, but played along to get as much information as she could, spotting red flags with every text coming in.

“Once they hear an opportunity like this, especially when it’s associated with Victoria’s Secret, a lot of girls’ dream is to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel, right? So, I would think that they would hop on that chance. That might be the hook that they use because they know how to pry on their victims,” Barr said.

The text exchange went in depth, requiring initial pictures to be sent in, asking for background information and even offering a photo shoot. That’s when Barr shut the conversation down by responding, “You’ve been reported to the police, Victoria’s Secret and the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

Barr said although she didn’t fall for the scam, she’s scared others could if they’re not careful and looking out for those obvious red flags.

“If it the sounds too good to be true, then it’s not true. Again, modeling anything like that if you pursue this career, always go through professional agencies, a pretty reputable one. No big company’s ever going to recruit you through phone, like random text messages. Another thing, never, ever send pictures of yourself to somebody or pictures that you wouldn’t want other people to see,” said Barr.

She added that her biggest concern is not much can be done now with this text exchange since no crime has been committed.

“It makes me disappointed, scared and sad. I’m scared for all the girls out there. I’m scared that I feel we’re not doing our best here, that we’re just going to wait until somebody actually goes missing or a woman gets raped, a little girl gets hurt really badly, her life will be changed forever. I think that we can do more than that,” Barr said.

Horry County Sheriff’s Lt. Sherri Smith, who is also the co-chair of the Coastal Region Human Trafficking Task Force, said it’s important for parents to closely monitor their children’s activity on their devices, noting education is key when it comes to social media safety.

“Traffickers can target younger children, like teenage children, because they can look on Instagram for instance - not just Instagram, but any kind of social media - and if they’re posting things about their school or home alone or something like that, some of the traffickers will key into that and then try to direct message them and become their friend and then that’s kind of how they groom them and get them in there,” Smith said.

Barr says she’s been in contact with the Horry County Sherriff’s Office and investigators are looking into this texting scam.

Officials with the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said if someone receives a scam like this one, they should reach out to authorities immediately.

“From what we can tell there’s nothing that can be done at this point because no crime has been committed. However, this is why we have an Internet Crimes Against Children Education Coordinator who goes to schools and speaks at civic groups to warn them about situations like this that are likely lures for human traffickers," said Robert Kittle, spokesperson for the state AG’s office. "It’s also why our human trafficking task force is focused on prevention efforts in educating the public about methods like this. We hope more schools will adopt a prevention curriculum.”

A similar incident happened in January 2018, with flyers being posted around Benedict College.

Barr believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of situations like this and wants this to serve as a reminder for parents to educate their children.

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