A Facebook post published by Diandra Toyos has gone viral on Facebook and beyond, but that same Facebook post about a near-miss with alleged child sex traffickers in IKEA has been deleted. Published on March 23 at 3:13 p.m., Toyos related an experience that she thought might help other moms. Diandra wrote that she had recently read a Facebook post from another woman that went viral describing how the mother and her kids were targeted in Target by human sex traffickers. Toyos went on to say that the mother who claimed to have been stalked with her kids reported the incident and was told that it was a common occurrence.
Diandra’s very long Facebook post claimed that the Southern California mom endured the same type of thing when Toyos and her mom and Diandra’s children visited their local IKEA store because Diandra was in the market for a couch. Toyos’ original Facebook post (with updates to respond to Facebook comments) was nearly 2,000 words long and told the scary tale of two men whom Diandra said followed her, her mom, and three children around IKEA for a long period of time. Diandra claimed that the well-dressed men gave her and her mother a bad feeling as they allegedly followed the women and kids around the store, “pretending to shop” but actually were purportedly more focused on the kids.
“A few days ago, my mom and I took the kids (I have 3 kids. A daughter who is 4, and two sons, 1.5 years and 7 weeks) to IKEA. We enjoy going and it’s always nice to get the kids out of the house! We went specifically to look at couches. We were in the couch section and the kids were enjoying climbing on each couch and trying them out. My daughter was trying to convince us which couch we should get. My older son was happily walking from couch to couch, flopping himself on each one. My baby boy was snuggled into the sling, sound asleep. After a few minutes, I noticed a well dressed, middle aged man circling the area, getting closer to me and the kids. At one point he came right up to me and the boys, and instinctively I put myself between he and my mobile son. I had a bad feeling. He continued to circle the area, staring at the kids. He occasionally picked something up, pretending to look at it but looking right over at us instead.”
As seen in the archived post from Diandra’s Facebook page, Toyos went on to write about the men creepily stalking near the women and children, and even sitting for a full 30 minutes near the women and kids in a certain IKEA room and only getting up when the women rose to leave. Diandra said she kept her children nearby the whole time, and contacted the head of IKEA security “and spoke extensively” with them when the incident was over.
Toyos wrote that she was sending her IKEA experience out as a warning to parents to keep their children close and not to get too distracted by smartphones so that child sex traffickers won’t have an opportunity to snatch kids. However, the backlash against Diandra’s Facebook post began swiftly, with publications calling Diandra’s experience a sort of urban myth.
The original version of Diandra’s Facebook post can still be viewed via Google’s cache as of this writing.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Toyos’ Facebook post was deemed a “misinformed and ultimately harmful depiction” of child sex-trafficking. Written by an anti-trafficking expert, the piece describes that real sex traffickers tend to lure their victims instead of grabbing them in broad daylight in stores. Some of the most sex-trafficked kids are usually runaways or those belonging to parents or foster care parents that actually sell them into sex slavery. The Los Angeles Times piece notes that sex trafficking can be more of a psychological abduction at first, such as a young girl who falls in love with a guy who becomes her pimp. When the expert attempted to leave comments refuting Toyos’ Facebook post, it was notably received with backlash, as were those from sex trafficking experts who dealt with thousands of cases and were told, “Sex trafficking can happen anywhere.”
Snopes also slammed Diandra’s Facebook post as one lacking in detailed facts, with the publication deeming it unproven. For her part, Toyos wrote that she did ultimately respond to Snopes, but the publication has not updated their article with her response. Diandra wrote that plenty of folks on Facebook asked her why she didn’t take photos of the two men if she felt in danger and wanted to warn others, but Toyos wrote that she was too busy keeping a close eye on her kids with her mom in IKEA.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/AP Images]