Brittney Cason is a media personality whose work has been featured by The Charlotte Observer and CBS Charlotte, among other outlets. Those reporting instincts ultimately saved her from becoming a human trafficking victim during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Cason wrote a first-person account of her experience for XOJane.com's "It Happened To Me" series. She recounted reaching a seemingly legitimate agreement to work with a Los Angeles-based production company during the Games.
She told her tale while limiting information in terms of names and other detailed notes due to ongoing investigations and a pending case:
To keep those involved in this situation anonymous for a pending case, I will merely explain the scenario. A man claiming to be a talent acquisition agent booking correspondents to cover the Sochi Olympics approached me via my website back in September. Given my background in sports broadcasting hosting a nationally syndicated motorsports show and working on sports talk radio, it made sense he was recruiting me.
Cason states she was contacted through her personal site by an individual claiming to be a talent agent booking correspondents to cover the Sochi Games. The talent agent eventually selected her and another reporter from the Charlotte area after a lengthy vetting process to make the trip to be a live event emcee and beat reporter.
During the vetting process, Cason had to provide multiple reels featuring her past work while also getting the permits necessary to work in Sochi.
At the same time, Cason did some baseline research on the man who contacted her and determined he appeared legitimate. He had a website and verified Twitter handle, and everything he had told her personally appeared to check out. The same held true for the Los Angeles production company.
The red flags didn't start waving until this man again contacted Cason wondering if she knew any other females in the industry who would be interested in joining the coverage team. The so-called talent agent was now willing to hire her friend and offer her an immediate work visa without any further information or audition tapes.
That led her to contact the other broadcaster who had been hired, and they began working harder to make sure everything he was telling them checked out.
It didn't. As it turns out, the L.A. production company he was allegedly representing had no knowledge of him and didn't request his services. She was put in touch with the company's lawyers and the FBI to collect information.
Cason provided more information about human trafficking from Jillian Mourning of the All We Want Is Love organization:
So many of the stories I've heard from survivors of Sex Trafficking start with, "I was hired for a modeling job."
"The Olympics is a huge draw for trafficking," Jillian added. "It’s a major sporting event in a foreign country, and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries."
Thanks to her instincts, she was able to save herself from the situation. Given how close she came to making the trip, however, it's worrisome to wonder if others weren't as fortunate.
She finished the article by giving advice to anybody facing a similarly intriguing yet potentially dangerous situation. In the end, she says it comes backs to the old phrase, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
It's a very interesting and sobering story about the dangers that lurk around many corners. By telling her story, the hope from Cason is probably to help save other people from falling into the same life-altering trap in which she almost found herself.
The Olympics aren't the only time this type of thing can happen, of course. It's something that is commonly talked about surrounding many major sporting events.
Cautionary tales like Cason's are one reminder for people to take a step back before traveling into unknown territory.