Fradulent Massage Licenses Raise Human Trafficking Concerns

Sep 21, 2012

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is calling for the state health department to investigate massage therapy schools after it’s been revealed that hundreds of massage therapists obtained state licenses through fraud. Investigators are concerned the illegally licensed massage therapists might be the victims of human trafficking.

Scott has ordered the suspension of 81 massage licenses so far. Some of the women reportedly paid up to $15,000 to get fake college certificates and transcripts, which they submitted to the state during their application. 

Elizabeth Watts, with the Clearwater Police Department, says her city’s human trafficking task force is concerned some of the women might be victims.

“We encountered several women who didn’t speak English, who couldn’t read English, who couldn’t write English, so that obviously raised a red flag as to how they would obtain their certification," she said.

Human trafficking is the practice of moving people against their will and forcing them to work, often as sex workers.