Brittney Cason, a radio host based in Charlotte, thought she had verified every aspect of the supposed reporting gig offer for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The situation still felt sketchy to her, so she searched further, and that may have saved her from being a victim of human trafficking.
Cason, who has a history in sports broadcasting, shared her story on xoJane, and from her account, it sounds like the experience could have had a much worse ending if she had flown to Sochi as intended. She received the offer back in September from a "talent acquisition agent" and adjusted her life quite a bit to fulfill the requirements.
After going through a lengthy application process of sending reel upon reel of my work and jumping through hoops to audition, I was told I was chosen by a production company in LA who works with the network to be their live event emcee/beat reporter, along with another credible sportscaster in the Charlotte area.
I again did my research and it all checked out. So I filled out a work visa, signed a non-disclosure agreement upon receiving a preliminary contract with my salary, and even got a round-trip flight itinerary. And in turn I rearranged my whole life so I could take off for a month to chase a dream.
Then, two weeks before we were slated to depart for Russia, this "Talent Acquisitions Agent" said he needed to expand his host team and asked if I could get some more of my girlfriends in the industry to come to Sochi. I made some suggestions, then his "assistant" (who we later discovered through an IP search was really him) sent me the link to print out a hard copy of a visa application for a girl to fill out and give to him.
I spent four months applying and interviewing and he's sending my friend a work visa without even seeing her work? Now, my friend is really talented, but wanting her passport and social security number before her reel just seemed fishy to me.
Cason and her friend acted on their hunch, digging deeper into the credentials of the "talent acquisition agent," and the result required the FBI's involvement. The whole account's interesting and a bit frightening, considering the amount of effort exerted by the man.