There’s been a lot of buzz this year around human trafficking. It seems to have kicked off with the arrest and death of Jeffrey Epstein, and now the stories keep rolling in.
Exhibit A is a wildly prevalent theory that has gained traction in the past few days and almost sounds like it came from a spy thriller or action movie: Wayfair is trafficking children through their website.
Wayfair Is Selling Children...in Cabinets?
On July 9, Reddit user PrincessPeach1987 posted a question about the price of utility cabinets for sale on Wayfair.com on a Reddit conspiracy thread.
How she jumped from “wow, these cabinets are expensive” to “they must come with a child inside” is the question every sensible person is asking right now. PrincessPeach1987 told Newsweek that she is "involved in a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking," making her "suspicious most of the time now." She also asserts that her Reddit post was intended to ask if anyone else had information that could confirm or deny her suspicions.
Sleuths have pointed out that the cabinets — as well as other items for sale on the website — have the same name as missing children.
But it's not only overpriced cabinets that have shown up. It's also pillows, couches, and other exceptionally expensive items, again with names that can be linked to missing children.
Another piece of “evidence” that has surfaced is, if you were to search the Wayfair item stock keeping unit number (SKU) with the phrase “src usa” on Yandex, a Russian search engine (who even thinks to try these things?), you’ll get images of children in bathing suits. (Snopes confirms this actually does happen, by the way, but explains it could be connected to the Russian image hosting website Imgsrc.)
Past events are seen as confirmation of present events.
In June 2019, Wayfair employees at the Boston headquarters held a walkout to protest the sale of beds to a Texas detention center for detained migrant children. According to CBS, “Wayfair sold about $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to BCFS, a nonprofit government contractor, for use in a 3,000-person detention camp in Carrizo Springs, Texas.”
Wayfair maintained it’s right to sell to any legal customer and washed their hands of any morality attached to the sale.
This incident, combined with the fact that nearly 1,500 immigrant children are unaccounted for in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (which simply means their sponsor didn’t respond to follow-up calls), was enough to convince people that Wayfair has a means of acquiring children to sell.
So now, who knows how many hundreds, thousands, or even millions (?) of people believe that Wayfair, or someone using the site, is concealing the sale of children under the guise of overpriced furniture in a thinly veiled human trafficking operation.
Denials and Fact Checks
Wayfair was quick to offer an explanation for the price of the cabinets: “The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced.” But Wayfair recognizes that the listing didn’t provide the average customer enough information to justify the price, so they have “temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point."
“The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced.”
The fact-checking site Snopes swiftly labeled the Wayfair allegations “false,” but their "investigation" rested pretty much on Wayfair's hurried initial statement and a vague assertion that the story was just too crazy to believe. “The more we pondered this claim, the more nonsensical it appeared,” Snopes author Dan Evon wrote of the allegation. “Would a large business really use their official website to allow people to purchase children online?”
Let's also remember that Wayfair is a site that hosts sales listings from third-party sellers (just like Amazon does). Wayfair hosts the transaction between the consumer and the supplier — so if something shady were actually going on, there's a range of possibilities for the level of Wayfair's involvement, from completely ignorant and innocent to monetarily benefiting from child trafficking sales by receiving their cut for hosting the sale but without being directly involved.
We're not weighing in on whether or not we think the conspiracy theorists are correct. But this is 2020, and anything could happen. The death of Jeffrey Epstein, and the subsequent reveal of the extent of his sex trafficking operation, have made even the most naive Americans aware of how prevalent sex and human trafficking still are.
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