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Employees from both Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle were recently exposed to be using their company email accounts to engage in Asian sex trafficking.
Newsweek recently obtained multiple emails sent by the so-called “prostitution hobbyists” between 2014 and 2016 sourcing trafficked Asian sex workers from pimps and brothels with names such as Golden Blossom, AsianCandy777 and 7HeavenofAsia.
The emails, requested from the King County Prosecutor’s Office, included 67 sent from Microsoft employee email accounts and 63 from Amazon accounts. Dozens more were discovered from companies like Boeing, T-Mobile, Oracle, and other tech firms with offices in Seattle.
According to the report, the emails were collected during a sting operation targeting sex worker review boards, such as backpage, in 2015. During the operation, three online review boards were found to have around 18,000 men rating and discussing a small group of Korean women. The effort resulted in 18 people arrested, including top-level Amazon and Microsoft directors — two of which are scheduled to begin trial in March 2018.
A source privy to the cases stated that the seized emails reflect just a small percentage of the involved men in the business tech sector. The records that the authorities have seized were reportedly just a fraction of the area’s hundreds of brothels and massage parlors. The report revealed that the trafficked Asian women service hundreds of men daily in Seattle, with each woman having sex with up to 15 men a day.
Most of the women reportedly barely spoke English and depended upon phone translation apps to communicate with their clients. Some pretended to be actual girlfriends of the client (the “GFE or girlfriend experience”) or engaged in nude “Nuru” massage.
One of the pimps even admitted that most of the women were forced to engage in sex trade due to being “in debt bondage and in fear for their lives or the safety of their families.”
Microsoft released a statement to Newsweek, saying, “Microsoft has a long history of cooperating with law enforcement and other agencies on combating sex trafficking and related topics, and we have employees who volunteer their time and money specifically to combat this issue as well. The personal conduct of a tiny fraction of our 125,000 employees does not in any way represent our culture.
“No organization is immune to the unfortunate situation when employees act unethically or illegally. When that happens, we look into the conduct and take appropriate action. Microsoft makes it clear to our employees they have a responsibility to act with integrity and conduct themselves in a legal and ethical manner at all times. If they don’t, they risk losing their jobs.”
Meanwhile, Amazon expressed the company is currently investigating the matter, saying “Amazon’s Owner’s Manual clearly states that, ‘It is against Amazon’s policy for any employee or Contingent Worker to engage in any sex buying activities of any kind in Amazon’s workplace or in any work-related setting outside of the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings or business-related social events.’ When Amazon suspects that an employee has used company funds or resources to engage in criminal conduct, the company will immediately investigate and take appropriate action up to and including termination. The company may also refer the matter to law enforcement.”
While local authorities dismantled the review boards in 2015, the women rated on them were neither arrested nor rescued. Seattle Against Slavery executive director Robert Beiser noted that the women merely disappeared from the Seattle area.
“They were in debt and they tried to get out and they were afraid. In terms of where they have ended up, criminal enterprises stretch across countries, and can harm these people and their families, and the idea that they would disappear makes sense,” Beiser explained.