Free-Range Kids

The Mom Who Was Terrified of Becoming Sex-Trafficked at Target

Spoiler: She was fine.


When I opened my Yahoo! News page today, I found a list of stories including this one: "Mom Issues Terrifying Warning After Being 'Hunted' at Target: 'I Will Never Forget.'"

Many readers will never forget, either—and that is the problem. There is not a single shred of evidence that this woman was hunted by anything more than her imagination or desire for clicks.

The mom—whose real name was not provided—left the house "with several legal self-defense items, parked directly next to the store and took note of the vehicles parked nearby."

That sounds like someone pretty ready to see an ordinary Target run as quite possibly her last. And sure enough: "I had been browsing for only 10 to 15 minutes when I noticed a young gentleman," wrote the mom. "He was tall, skinny, dressed in a dirty grey two-piece sweatsuit, and brown work boots. He looked over at me, I smiled and said hello but his facial expression was blank."

Scary, right? A guy shopping and not smiling? And not using a shopping cart? My blood would run cold.

And he wasn't even the only scary man at Target! There was another guy, and then another guy "in the exact same situation."

The "situation" being shopping while male. "I had a bad feeling about these three men, and it became clear that something was a bit off," she wrote.

Mom continued to wander around the store, getting more and more distraught, and darned if she didn't keep seeing the guys doing their shopping, too. How unusual and disturbing.

"It felt as if I was being surrounded like a wild animal—hunted, even," she wrote. "They were no longer trying to be inconspicuous, which was the scariest part of it all, and everything instinctual was screaming at me to get out of there."

And this is why Yahoo! News stinks for running this story: It is contributing to that very same "instinct" that isn't instinct at all—it's a car alarm of fear that goes off when a leaf falls on the hood.

This mom (if there really was a mom; the whole story is based on something someone wrote on Reddit) went to the store already taking the precautions you might take in Kandahar if you were wearing an American army uniform: watch out for the enemy, always be alert, note your surroundings.

Unsurprisingly, she sees the enemy everywhere.

When she finally left the store—with a male employee walking her to the car, per her request, she was horrified to spot a white van. Be afraid, be very afraid. (Or  better yet, don't be.)

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  1. She also has a very well visited OnlyFans site.

    MILF-Aisle 69

    1. Disagree. I’d put down even money on any of the following:
      -She’s >160 lbs.
      -Was herself wearing leggings or sweatpants
      -Had stains on her clothes

      1. Wait, screw the above. The story came from someone with the username Peaky-Lou on reddit. I’ll parlet any of the above bets at 2:1 on 10:1 odds that the person isn’t even real.

        I carry several self-defense items on my person at all times( kabuton, alarm, and universal handcuff key) just in case.

        That shit’s not real.

        1. I’m > 160lbs and carry a universal handcuff key!

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          2. I’d say the real universal handcuff key is anything that keeps anyone with handcuffs two arm’s length or more away i.e. rifles, handguns, knives, batons, canes, talking to yourself about how the sky is plaid, even farts or gurgling, wretching sounds from the bottom of your throat.

          3. Sounds like something in Batman’s Utility Belt (Fortunately Robin, I have my universal handcuff bat-key!)…

        2. If you look at Peeky-Lou’s history on Reddit, that one post 11 months ago is pretty much all they have ever posted, too, further evidence that this as just a throw-away account and the story is bullshit. Glancing at the sub, it all appears to be bullshit. “I was nearly kidnapped! Some guy was following me down the sidewalk! And then a car came down the street! I was lucky to escape with my life!”

          1. Funny that the fine journalists at Yahoo News didn’t bother doing as much research as a random poster at reason would do.

            I mean, that probably took you the better part of a minute to run down, so I see why they decided it wasn’t worth the investment.

        3. She misspelled the first item, but it is real

          1. Didn’t mean to say that the equipment wasn’t real, that the story about carrying all that in to target to defend yourself from uniformed sex traffickers isn’t real.

        4. A hacksaw?

      2. 160 lbs is being kind. She probably goes 320 and calls herself “curvy…in all the right places”

        1. Primer2396 11 months ago
          Just glad you got out alive i had gone through a full kidnapping kind of thing where one tried to cover my mouth and the 2 others tried to pull me into their car I was heavy and Screamed and got out I was 12 at the time I am 14 now

          Playing the odds. Either way, 12-yr.-old female too heavy for 3 grown men to lift sounds about right.

          Sex trafficking by the pound… just all around brilliant.

        2. News flash: double chins, bat wings under the arms and enough love handles to occupy all the hands of an Indian god statue are NOT the right places.

      3. Yoga pants…..
        Why do obese women wear clothes that reveal more than we want to see?

  2. Spoiler: She was fine.


    1. The Mom Who Was Terrified of Fantasized About Becoming Sex-Trafficked at Target


  3. Good lord I hope she never goes into a hardware store.

    1. She might encounter a rim-riding grip configuration

    2. Or an auto parts store…..

  4. The pervasive conspiracy isn’t sex trafficking but the demonization of people who are socially awkward (and accusing them of paranoia if they complain). We have a generation of ‘autistic’ kids (debilitated and traumatized by years of ‘therapy’) who are coming of age and it’s going to be very difficult for them to get along in the real world (outside the bubble of people who tolerate their quirks).

    1. What kind of therapy do you think Autistic Kids are getting?

      I have two kids on the spectrum that went through WAY more therapy than most.

      The therapy was focused mostly on learning how not to be awkward due to sensory stimulation. Like working up to handling getting sand on their hands, or trying to eat foods that were slightly different colors or textures. But most of all it was done in a fun a playful environment.

      Don’t regret it at all, and my kids are able to cope and blend in this intolerant society pretty well.

  5. Oh, for fuck’s sake. The world has no obligation to accommodate paranoia.


    1. And yet, the response to Covid.

    2. Just because she’s paranoid, that doesn’t mean no one is out to get her.

      1. I can’t remember who first said this decades ago, but if you are convinced “they” are out to get you and act on this publicly, you are likely to be locked in a rubber room by a cabal of doctors who meet secretively and judge you by vague and subjective criteria.

    3. You have not been paying attention. In very many areas of life, the world indeed insists in not only accommodating paranoia and other mental disorders, these twisted perceptions are the basis of employment sanctions and can even cary criminal consequences.

      We are continually adding to the list of crimes that are solely down to the perception of a perceived victim. Even objectively reasonable conduct is not safe in this environment.

  6. “Sir, may I ask why you have a bound, blindfolded woman in your shopping cart?”

    1. I needed a kabuton, alarm, and universal handcuff key and she was part of the package.

  7. it is like most sex trafficking….. in that nothing actually happened.

    if it isn’t completely made up, i would wager the men were plainclothes security following a person acting a little off. if you walk into target like it is a war zone (not on black Friday), you are not only likely to imagine red flags, you are likely to raise them for others in yourself.

    1. That is actually the most reasonable non-joke suggestion in the thread. If there was a security guard following her, it would provoke a downward spiral. The fact that she was genuinely being followed would amplify her paranoia, causing her to act more suspicious and paranoid.

    2. In the seven plus years I worked at Target I don’t think we ever had plainclothes security.

      1. Assuming “plainchothes” just means “not wearing a red top”, are you sure?

  8. There are all sorts of retarded wemon like this. I was working an event and a door was propped open and some chick spotted a guy outside 200 ft away in the parking lot smoking. She asked me to tell him to stop smoking because she could smell it and it was harming her. I said “no you can’t. You didn’t you smell it until you saw him. You need help”. This is the same type of person

    1. HOW. DARE. YOU.

    2. Are you really going to deny her lived experience?

    3. I like how the word wemon gets rid of the included word men.

    4. I know at least two women thAt are that paranoid who come up with similar stories

  9. So she believes she was a Target for kidnapping?

    1. Like any self respecting kidnapper would shop at Target.

      The staff and the customers are too poor to be good ransom prospects and too unappealing for sex-trafficking.

      1. Winner

      2. 2 thumbs up!

    2. I was a target at Target.

      Sounds like a Geico commercial.

      1. But Walmart customers fight back

        1. Walmart customers are safe because they are even less appealing as kidnap victims than Target cusomers.

          1. Kidnapped People of Walmart. Dot com.

  10. “So I was taking my groceries through the parking lot back to the car. I was so eager to prepare a meal for my ungrateful husband and bratty kids that I didn’t notice the guy with the burlap sack sneaking up behind me. He grabbed me and took me to his bondage-mansion, where he asked me to service him in all sorts of unspeakable ways. I agreed, because I believe in being polite. The thought of it all still makes me hor – ah, horrified. Then he must have knocked me out and brought me back, because the next thing I knew I was waking up back in the parking lot…”

    1. Me, I’m still waiting for my alien abduction event. Hope they still probe anal canals like all the other abductees report.

      1. I remember when they kidnapped me, made me drink some nasty mixture which made me void my bowels, then knocked me out and stuck a probe inside me.

        1. And two week later, your doctor mailed you the results of your colonoscopy…

          1. Well, I was a bit drowsy at the time – it *could* have been aliens.

        2. Go on…

      2. Time and time again, I’ve proposed a technology exchange for these aliens who need to use probes to try understand the human bowel system.

        If they share their propulsion technology for faster-than-light travel, we will gladly share our technology for modern medical imaging. I’m talking CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, the works. Just give us one of your anti-gravity oscillators, please!

      3. Aliens travel thousands of light-years to probe Human buttholes?

        1. Mmmmmm, yesssss …. This is where “The Three Amigos” come in …

  11. Another 15 min or so passed and that’s when a third older man caught my attention, and you guessed it, same grey sweatsuit, and work boots with no cart, no basket just his hands in his pockets. I assumed they were in some sort of work uniform, maybe construction workers, but why weren’t they walking around together, and why didn’t they have any items to purchase?

    Showing up at the same Target wearing the same outfit as your fellow sex traffickers? How embarassing!

    1. When the easy answer is “a work crew was wandering around a convenient air conditioned building on their break”, you can’t expect logic.

  12. One_Sassy_Owl 11 months ago
    Can we take off the “three amigos” titles. I think it was meant to be funny but it puts strong race/ethnicity identifiers closely related to criminal activity. You noted in your story that the guy seemed Hispanic. But you don’t know for sure so the close association of the “three amigos” title and the action are not the best.

    ROFLMAO! The Three Amigos were white!

    1. Over/under on Sassy Owl’s weight? I’m guessing 320, with purple buzz cut to match.

      1. I seriously can’t help but laugh at the world where ‘The Three Amigos’ translates into ‘the three rapists’. It’s even funnier if you hear it in Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery voice.

        1. Now I’m going to imagine the guys like like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short.

  13. There was as much evidence of her being hunted at target as an officer dying from a fire extinguisher on jan 6th.

    1. or Trump having the election stolen from him

  14. So Yahoo News is the new National Enquirer? Trying to out-do the NYT and WaPo with scoops on the Russkis?

    1. Enquirer has standards and journalistic integrity.

    2. They allow access to stories on the wire.

  15. You left out the part where she claimed the same 3 men were in and around the white van.

    1. 80% of commercial vans are white. There is a very large number of white vans out there.

      Me, I’d star worrying if I was in a big parking lot and there weren’t any white vans anywhere in sight.

      1. Under the heading of “80% of all statistics are made up on the spot, I’m gonna say that is one off them.

        The number has to be way north of 80% of commercial vans that are white. Before Amazon started saturating the roadways with their grey vans, it would likely have been north of 95%.

        1. Does Pareto Optimality come into play here?

      2. It’s the ones with Free Candy spray painted on the side that you have to worry about.

  16. She’s probably also sure that any random concealed carry permit holder is going to shoot her, just for fun.

  17. “He looked over at me, I smiled and said hello but his facial expression was blank.”

    He was probably wondering why her mom didn’t teach her to not talk to strangers.

  18. “When she finally left the store—with a male employee walking her to the car, per her request, she was horrified…” **Shyamalan twist** …to discover that the male employee was in on it!

    1. We’re ALL in on it.

  19. Any person sitting in their car scoping out a place for 15 minutes would get the attention of plain cloths security and thats probably who the were

  20. How did she know he didn’t smile back with a mask on?


    1. There was a time where you’d assume anyone with a mask was planning a robbery.

  21. Wear Musk And Be Save Yourself. Don’t go outside without any reason. If you chatting with friends then join WhatsApp Group Link

    1. Musk Cologne is a safety device? Does it function like Mace?

  22. Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.

    I guess we know how readers over there were taking that tale.

  23. Considering Promising Young Woman was one of the nominees for Best Picture in the Hollywood Annual ‘aren’t we sooo talented’ awards, I am not surprised this kind of behavior would follow.

    1. Promising Young Woman did it! of course!

  24. I can just hear the three guys on the plumbing crew at the housing development under construction behind the Target. “Hosea, we could jerry-rig this plumbing problem if we just had something about 4 inches long and 2 inches round. Unfortunately, the plumbing store is six miles away and it is rush hour”. Marco: “I’m ready for a cold one! Let’s go into the Target and see what we can find”. Edurado: “Good idea! You hit the hardware department, I’ll check sporting goods, and Hosea, you look in housewares. The fix just has to last until the check clears”.

    Random green haired overweight woman: “I’m going to be kidnapped by plumbers!”

  25. What we used to call urban myths are now considered actual news by Yahoo. I guess they don’t have a fake news filter.

  26. Just one more reason to boycott Target.
    How can a woman (?) like that shop at a place that lets men into “her” bathroom?

  27. I remember this story. They left out that the employee was the store manager and he confirmed to the lady that this is how sex traffickers do it — stock innocent people in stores and kidnap them and force them into slavery. I guess the standards for retail managers are either really low or really high. My guess its the former.

    1. stock innocent people in stores

      Target stocks people for sex traffickers? Then I guess those guys were in the right place!

      1. Sometimes you just gotta give it to the squirrels – – – – – – – –

  28. We average one story, like this, a month on our local Facebook page. It is either Walmart or Target that it takes place. My favorite one was where they identified a vehicle. The vehicle turned out to be an unmarked police car investigating the previous month’s story.

    1. The reddit page has a link to this story:

      At about 12:46 p.m. Monday, police received a report from a Target loss prevention employee that a woman appeared to have been abducted from the store’s parking lot at 4575 W. 11th Ave. in Eugene.

      The employee saw the woman leave the store and get into the tan Nissan Maxima, when two cars appeared to surround her. One man approached her vehicle and smashed the driver’s side window. The man forced the woman over, then drove off with the victim still in the front passenger seat.

      Eugene Police Lt. Doug Mozan said during a press conference that it “appeared to be a coordinated attack on her vehicle.”

      Police later identified the woman as Marler-Liggins.

      Update: As of 9:30 p.m., Eugene Police announced officers have “been in personal contact with the victim, and she is no longer being sought. Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding this situation and encourage witnesses or others with pertinent information to contact detectives.”

      The adroit change in tone is very telling. Almost like the ‘victim’ stole her boyfriend’s car or something. Either way, pretty insulting to be released by sex traffickers a couple hours after being abducted.

      1. The fact that she was taken so violently (breaking the car window) yet released so quickly makes it sound more like an intimidation tactic, maybe against her husband or father who had fallen behind on his payments to Vinnie. Sounds stereotypical, but a coordinated group kidnapping a woman in broad daylight wouldn’t release her that quickly.

        1. Not alive anyway.

        2. Eugene is the home of the University of Oregon. Vinnie doesn’t lend money there, nobody there has enough money to pay him back.

      2. Too ugly to traffic?

        What a blow to your ego, Karen.

  29. There’s no porn like panic porn.

    1. Mask porn?
      Racism porn?
      Global climate warming change porn?

  30. “The whole story is based on something someone wrote on Reddit”

    Jesus H. Christ.

    If you read it on reddit, then it must be true!

    I read a story in comments here at Reason, last week, where a guy told me he was personally responsible for putting American dissidents in black helicopters.

    Where’s the New York Times on this?

    1. Their “reporter” was in the van – – – – – – –

  31. Incidentally, the other day, I was in the grocery store the last time I was in Vegas, when I saw this old timer walking around with a .45 in a holster. That’s right. He was walking around–in a grocery store–with a gun!!! There were children around and everything. And you know what happened next?

    Absolutely nothing.

    People noticed, but no one seemed to care. They just went about their business shopping. He went through the check out line, and nobody said anything. The grocery had a security guy working the front door. Security didn’t say anything to the guy with the gun either. No words were exchanged.

    It was a non-event.

    1. We should have open carry not concealed. Then you know who’s got one.

      1. There’s a place for both. As Saul Alinsky observed, “Power is not just what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

        Concealed-carriers add a mystique and a force-multiplier to those who are open-carrying. Would-be thugs have to wonder: ” For every person open-carrying, how many more are concealed-carrying?”

        Open-carriers also assist concealed-carriers by giving them an idea of who to give wide berth to avoid accidental shooting in a firefight situation.

        1. The bad guys get to choose when and where to engage. So someone who’s open-carrying is the first guy to be shot, and now the bad guy has his weapon, too, in addition to the one(s) they brought themselves.

    2. An armed populace makes for a polite society.

      1. Not on the roadways.

  32. Funny, I didn’t know Target had an aisle for kinky sex! I must shop there more often!

    1. Wally world does, in fact every aisle in Wally World is about kinky sex, just look how people dress.

      1. If you’re kinky enough, then EVERYWHERE is a place to go for kinky sex.

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  35. I still wouldn’t let my blond blue-eyed 8 year old granddaughter be alone at the local shopping center. She would be on a ship to the Middle-East in no time.

    1. To get away from you?

  36. Target is the new Port Authority Bus Terminal, is what she’s saying?

  37. I seen an article recently in a Prepper magazine on making a kit of items for wear on a necklace to be used for escape. It included Kevlar string, a small zip-tie, a tiny lightstick, a hair-pin, a universal handcuff key, a Scripto lighter, a plastic tube to hold it all, and a necklace clasp.

    Sophisticated, but I would think it would belong on a wrist instead, in case of getting your hands restrained from behind.

    In any event, probably the last place you’d need this escape kit is a U.S. department store with lighting, video cameras, crowds, and armed citizens. In an isolated Third World urban war zone with a history of kidnapping foreigners, maybe. However, in a place like a U.S. department store, the strategy of Avoid, Deny, and Defend is the proper course of action. Avoid, Deny, and Defend is detailed here:

    Active Shooter Survival

  38. Gone are the days when you could simply walk into a Target and get sex-trafficked. Now you need to order ahead online and have a loyalty card.

    1. But they’ll pick you up at the curb – convenient!

  39. so I guess Jussie Smollett is back!

    1. Or she had a talk with AOC.

  40. Now imagine this person with a badge and a gun. This is what hypervigilance training will get you.

  41. The only takeaway I get from this is that the woman is a delusional paranoid, possibly, maybe…… schizophrenic?
    Something going on here the rest of the story doesn’t cover but probably needs to be left alone.
    Maybe she was hoopin’ like George Floyd and had a psychotic episode.
    I wonder what Dr. Jordan Peterson would have to say about her?
    I hope she gets help.
    Maybe some different kind of chemicals.

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