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Clipboards asking Ryerson students for personal info could be linked to human trafficking

A simple, seemingly harmless form has appeared in Ryerson’s lecture halls, and it could have dire and dangerous consequences that has students sounding the alarm.

“I was shocked, like that’s awful, and using students and having that happen is kind of disgusting to be honest,” said Kassy Gascho, a student at Ryerson University.

The form claims to be from a Canadian company with 35 years of experience looking to fill a summer management position in 2019. No other details, not even the name of the company, are provided.

“No real company is going to put out something without their name in it, without giving some indication of what they’re looking for,” said crime specialist Ross Mclean.

Students say the forms began appearing in classrooms this week asking for some basic information: their first and last name, cell phone number, faculty, and notably, which city they’ll be living in during the summer of 2019.

Mclean said that last question is a huge red flag.

“To me that’s fishing to find someone who may not have local social support,” he said. “An international student, someone from out of town — finding people like that to be the first step in perhaps doing some human trafficking recruiting.”

He has seen human trafficking recruiters use similar tactics before and said university and college campuses are an easy target.

“The universities are full of young people these days who have credit cards, and some money. So you have to be very very careful. And the universities have to be careful in protecting their students too.”

Students told CityNews they’ve received an e-mail from the school warning about the clipboards and what to do if they see one being passed around.

“Pretty much like stop your class to say hey you can’t be doing this right now and find out who was handing these boards out,” another student named Annika Mccabe said.

Staff also received an e-mail from Ryerson security, which said Toronto police are aware of the clipboards and are investigating. But whoever is behind them has already started reaching out to students who unknowingly gave out their information.

“Yeah one of my friends did get a call back, they wanted to meet up with her, but she was warned before, she didn’t meet up with them,” said Chelsea Hudspeth, another student.

“If a call comes in, they’ll be looking to see your own degree of perhaps naiveté, your inexperience at being out on your own for the first time in the world,” said Mclean. “And they’ll befriend you, offer you, get to find out something about you, and that’s one of the first steps that they use in going towards human trafficking.”

“Prostitution is a big, big, big problem. These people will start off nice, ‘come here I have a job for you, do this walk around,’ they’ll romance you. The next thing you know, they’ll be at your throat,” he added.

CityNews did reach out to the school and police who did not have anyone available to speak Sunday night.

The problem seems to be widespread. CityNews found reports of similar forms being distributed at universities across the country, including Western, Laurier, Simon Fraser, and UBC, to name a few.