This episode explores the role that social media plays in romance scams, human trafficking, predatory teachers, misinformation, and more.
Dark Web Exposed, Vol. 1.
Dark Web Exposed is a documentary special that looks into new, bizarre and viral crime trends, amplified by social media networks, which have taken a second life outside the traditional police narrative.
In the spring of 2018, elementary teacher Brittany Zamora was arrested for engaging in sexual misconduct with a 13-year-old student. She is among a long line of teachers who have thrown their lives away to pursue sexual relationships with adolescents. This episode uses the Brittany Zamora case to examine how social media and digital communications have increased this trend.
As children, we are often taught “don’t talk to strangers.” We certainly know not to get in their cars. But rideshare companies have turned that paradigm on its head. With tens of millions of rides a day, rideshare companies boast that 99.9% of rides go without incident. But with so many drivers on the road, day in and day out, that small fraction translates into thousands of painful experiences. This episode examines the darker side of rideshares for some customer and what the industry and regulators can do to combat rideshare nightmares.
Cyber scams are siphoning off trillions of dollars from the global economy and reining them in is difficult. Most of the perpetrators are oversees where U.S. authorities lack jurisdiction. Experts say that more than 2000 people fall prey to cyber scams every day. Romance scams make up some of the most devastating of these crimes because the damage is both financial and emotional. Stories of real victims in this episode show the heavy toll that romance scam manipulation takes from victims.
Between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked in the United States every year, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline. Roughly a quarter of those trafficked are children sold for sex. Social media and digital websites have become major grooming and recruitment tools for predators. Digital websites and platforms, such as Backpage.com, are clandestine marketplaces for trafficking. This episode dives into the underworld of human trafficking and the digital tactics used by those that perpetrate it.
On the morning of July 14, 2019, while thousands gathered in the streets of Utica, NY for an annual running race, emergency dispatchers were receiving reports of a murder and a man who had posted graphic pictures on his social media. Brandon Clark then calls 911 and threatens to kill himself. What drove Brandon to murder 17-year-old model and internet personality Bianca Devins and to go viral on social media for the crime and his attempted suicide? This episode dives into a deadly case of digital infatuation.
In February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world, the director general of the World Health Organization warned of another danger. “We are not just fighting a pandemic, we are fighting an infodemic,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. Now with more than 220,000 U.S. deaths, misinformation about the pandemic has spread across social media not just from Russia and China but from domestic actors and politicians with fatal results.