During self-isolation in the midst of the pandemic, many people are looking for ways to satiate their boredom online. It offers pseudo-contact with other people, a hivemind to offset the near-constant squabbles of real life, and the ability to make mountains out of molehills with a well-worded and barely plausible theory. People want to believe they’re finding things missed by police or the government and then share it to bolster their own sense of accomplishment.
This time the subject of scrutiny was online retailer Wayfair (already on my sh*t list for selling items to ICE detention centers holding children) and a possible connection between their high-priced cabinets and children being trafficked. It all started when Reddit user PrincessPeach1987 posted the following in r/conspiracy on July 9:
“Is it possible Wayfair involved in Human trafficking with their WFX Utility collection? Or are these just extremely overpriced cabinets? (Note the names of the cabinets) this makes me sick to my stomach if it’s true :(“
The accompanying photo included cabinets priced in excess of $12,000 bearing names like “Neriah”, “Yaritza”, and “Alviyah”. The Reddit post currently stands at 3.3k likes and 1.7k comments, including one from user Forsaken-Clock claiming they called a trafficking hotline about the retailer and a case was opened based on the theory. Twitter soon picked up on the claims and ran with them.
Of particular note was a tweet calling out a missing person by name.
this is what I saw guys. it’s bigger than we think. since this going viral they’ve removed the cabinets pic.twitter.com/2QaBi8olaO— Aleiyah. (@theeintrovert) July 10, 2020
One of the allegedly missing girls posted to Facebook Live to debunk the theory. Of course, some individuals doubled-down and insisted she was just covering for her tormentors. Godtopus wept in this, the timeline where dumb people have too many platforms. Language triggers; NSFW.
the girl that everybody thought was in the wayfair cabinet snapping on fb live 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/jciNiw0oos— E 🌬 (@___evelynf) July 10, 2020
Another facet of the conspiracy hinged on users accessing a Russian (?!) search engine called Yandex and typing in the SKU of the questionably priced furniture along with the search terms “src USA.” This populates with results of young girls, oddly. However, several people pointed out that any search on Yandex including “src USA” provides the user with similar photos. Another Reddit user, JJHJHHJ_JJHJH, explained this away due to a Russian child modeling agency SRC Models skewing the results.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the FBI, 2019 saw 421,394 missing children entered into their National Crime Information Center. Of those, 1 in 6 are probable victims of sex trafficking. That means that multiple names belong to children reported missing by their families, even monikers that may be seen on nail polish colors or furniture listings.
For example, Anabel is another name given for one of the cabinets Wayfair was selling, leading conspiracy enthusiasts to connect it to a missing Kansas girl named Anabel Wilson. A search of “Anabel missing” pulls up other missing girls with the same name, like Anabel Davis (safely returned home) and 29-year-old Anabel Bruton (sadly, her body was found).
In a statement to multiple outlets like Business Insider, Wayfair had this to say:
“There is, of course, no truth to these claims,” a Wayfair spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. “The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced. Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we 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 removal of the items from the site only further incensed conspiracy theorists, with some taking it as an admission of guilt. I won’t even get into the alleged Pizzagate connections (Walnut Sauce), but I will say that both are unconfirmed and unlikely. Of course, there is child trafficking happening in the United States, as illustrated by the existence of Jeffrey Epstein’s private island of horrors and his newly arrested girlfriend/madam Ghislaine Maxwell.
Silence is always the enemy of crimes such as this, but so is spreading wild misinformation with nothing more than cabinet names and other non-evidence. In a statement to Newsweek, PrincessPeach1987 gave the reasoning behind her initial post: confusion over the pricing.
In chat conversations with Newsweek, PrincessPeach1987 described seeking out garage storage with their husband when they came across the expensive cabinet listings. While they at first surmised that they may have stumbled across unlisted drop shipping sales, Facebook posts also suspicious of the pricey listings made them more inclined to listen to their suspicions that there may be something more to the listings.
PrincessPeach1987, who declined to reveal their non-redditor identity, described themselves as “involved in a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking,” which has led her to be “suspicious most of the time now.” They characterized their Reddit post as less of a direct accusation and more of an effort to “see if anyone else had more details.”
We should all be vigilant in our mission to protect children but also diligent about what we spread online. If PrincessPeach1987 was truly only looking for “more details” on the pricing, why not do so without using the words “human trafficking” in a post to the sub-Reddit r/conspiracy? It was a calculated move to push her own suspicions to a wider audience. Of course, if this entire fiasco proves true, I will apologize to PrincessPeach1987 and thank her, but I don’t think either of us should hold our breath on that one.
Header Image Source: Wayfair