One of the nation’s leading anti-sex trafficking detectives recently revealed how he can use evidence on OnlyFans content to build criminal cases against accused criminals and how pimps use the lucrative website to “advertise.”
Last week, Detective Joseph Scaramucci of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, who The Christian Post describes as one of the nation’s “most elite human trafficking investigators,” told a panel at an online summit for the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation that he has used videos and screenshots from OnlyFans content as evidence against suspected human traffickers.
OnlyFans, which was created in 2016 but exploded in popularity amid the pandemic, is a social media platform similar to Facebook or YouTube that has the option for users to charge their followers fees for content, which has paved the way for an explosion in homemade pornography as well as a novel means through which sex traffickers can pull a profit.
However, as the site has grown, so have concerns that it is being used to facilitate sex trafficking.
Scaramucci, who has participated in both state and federal investigations leading to the arrests of 149 perpetrators of sex trafficking and the identification of 260 sex trafficking victims, explained that he can look at OnlyFans for signs of criminality, but that traffickers are also exploiting the website’s paywall to hide their activity.
“Targeting trafficking is going through and looking at the photographic visual indicators, being able to show the travel, and being able to get very strong indicators, whether it be financial transactions coupled with money movement,” he told the panel.
“And people in certain cities at certain times, [those] advertisements just happen to be posted at and then coupling that with are they advertising for OnlyFans as well.”
“… The beauty of OnlyFans is that many of them are hiding behind that paywall. … [They] are shooting video with their victims [on OnlyFans], and they are using that video to elevate themselves because that’s what [pimps] do … which is what drives me crazy about them.”
It is the paywall that can often impede law enforcement from properly investigating alleged traffickers who may be using the platform.
“Not only are they promoting OnlyFans, but they have recruiters actively recruiting folks to come make their millions, citing the few examples of folks who have made a lot of money, and encouraging a lot of folks, particularly young folks who are on a lot of those websites, to come on over to OnlyFans and have a similar experience,” explained Ron Eritano, who participated in the panel as a representative of the Normandy Group on behalf of Awareness is Prevention.
“As you can imagine, that becomes pretty dangerous pretty quickly. Not only do they pay the recruiters on OnlyFans, the creators themselves are incentivized to add folks by getting a small payment in conjunction with anyone they add to the platform. OnlyFans continues to drive its membership based on those payment structures.”
Eritano said that it is estimated at at least 90% of the content on OnlyFans is pornographic, yet what sets it apart from other platforms is that it portrays itself as relatively mainstream.
“… The interesting thing about OnlyFans is it portrays itself as a much more mainstream website and platform due to connections with a number of celebrities, from Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer; to Cardi B, the entertainer. But make no mistake about it, OnlyFans is predominately and heavily an adult online pornographic website,” he explained.
Although the platform has safeguards in place to ensure users are over the age of 18, these safeguards can routinely fail. As we have detailed previously, one report out of the U.K. found that minors in a stunning number of cases were able to set up accounts using someone else’s ID, and create and sell hardcore pornography content.
And one of the most concerning features on OnlyFans, the Post notes, is that there is no age verification process in place for third parties who participate in the content posted—it is only the creator who must confirm they are over the age of 18.
“This creates a huge loophole that continues to be utilized by many folks on OnlyFans today,” Eritano explained.
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