Police are warning people about door to door magazine solicitors who may be tied to human trafficking and identity theft.
Chickasha police arrested Vincent Mercanto of Florida for soliciting without a license and altering a state ID card. Officers are warning residents to be wary of solicitors like Mercanto.
According to Chief of Police Eddie Adamson, these groups travel around the U.S. to recruit young people to solicit the sales of magazines. Typically, these groups are tied to human trafficking, identity thefts and scams. Many of these groups will recruit these young people and then take them across the country and drop them off at locations to sell magazines with the promise of extravagant vacations and large sums of money if their magazine sales reach a certain level, which never occurs.
"What these criminals do is simply take a kid somewhere far away from home, take their cell phone from them, tell them how gather personal information using the scam of magazine sales, and then drops them off in neighborhoods," said Chief Adamson. "After they get them away from home with no way of returning, they charge them for the inflated cost of a hotel room, food, and anything else, which results in them owing the company for more than they could ever earn and after they start owing the company so much money, the company works out a deal to help them work off the debt and that is where the girls are pushed into sex trafficking and other crimes come into play for the boys who have been recruited."
Chief Adamson added that once some people get involved in this crime business they become knowing accomplices and that is when they transition to preying on others and recruiting other young people.
Meanwhile, police say Mercanto has a lengthy criminal history in various states ranging from multiple charges for drugs to trespassing.
"We are warning everyone about this situation and the potential for these criminals to steal identities among other things," said Adamson. "We want anyone who has been approached with this type of solicitation to please call us as soon as possible with the description of the person who approached you so we can hopefully get any youth that have been unknowingly recruited into this scam back to their families and hopefully arrest those involved in recruiting them."
The Chickasha Police Department is asking anyone with information to call their dispatch center at 405-222-6050.