How many times has this happened to you? Your doorbell rings, your dogs go crazy, barking at the young stranger standing at the door. You open the door and are greeted by a pleasant face and a "Hi, my name is....", and he or she proceeds to tell you their story; how they are going to the local university, trying to earn points for a trip to Europe, or turning their life around, or helping poor children around the world. And, of course, how they do this is by selling you a magazine or two. These young people are well trained to lie to you; to tell you their grandma lives right down the street, where they're from, what they are doing with their life now; all the things to pull at your heartstrings, to pull you into their story and purpose for showing up on your doorstep. Oh, yes, the more seasoned consumer, who has heard this pack of lies before, will politely (or not) tell the solicitor they are not interested and close the door. But too many unsuspecting folks believe the story and happily write out a check to support the efforts of the young salesperson while getting a magazine to boot! Problem is, the youth that are selling you magazines are selling themselves short, and you, too. You will never get your magazine, your check has been cashed, and any effort to contact the company is met with a "leave your number and we'll call you back" voicemail. A legitimate looking website advertises a company that will fulfill your dreams of a successful future. The only thing they are filling full are their own pockets and those of the recruiters of these street youth, filling them with promises of a job, an income and a future. There are stories all over the internet about how these generally homeless, broke youth are targeted at the mall or on the street by another young person they can instantly relate to, and are told how they can hook them up with this great job. Easily conned in to this scheme out of desperation, they are the victims of "mom and pop" type sponsors who befriend, hire, train and use these 18+ year olds to do their dirty work. Promises of a great job soon morph into the ugly reality of a few buck a day for a door to door assault on neighborhoods, sometimes from early morning to late into the evening, spewing lies through smiling charm. If they don't make their quota their pay is even less. And if they want out and want to go home they are literally kicked to the curb and on their own with no possible way to make it. The loss of a few dollars to a consumer is only the beginning of the atrocity being carried out here. For over 20 years, youth who have possibly made poor choices, burned bridges behind them, alienated themselves from the family who loves them, or possibly have escaped abuse at home; there are a million stories, I'm sure; these "kids" find themselves in dire straits and become enslaved by the very people they thought were their saviors. No, they haven't been put into prostitution, but this is still a sinister form of human trafficking, preying on the young person who has no options, no hope. The only way to stop those who are victimizing these youth for their own gain is to spread awareness, loud and clear, over the airwaves of TV, internet, snail mail, whatever it takes for people to not fall victims themselves to the door-to-door deceit that is happening every year all over America. Unfortunately, this will not take these kids off the street and they may still be vulnerable to other evil opportunists, but it will put the perpetrators of this scam out of business. That is exactly why I am coming to CNN; to tell the story; to use the media to do what should have been done long ago; to stop these "periodical pimps" from carrying out their crimes against consumers and mostly against the real victims here, the "street walkers" of a different kind, used by those they unwittingly trusted to be their way out.
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