- Odd News
Brittney Cason has been a professional sportscaster since her retirement from NFL cheerleading, working for nationally syndicated radio, and television talk shows
An ex-NFL cheerleader-turned-sports journalist almost became a victim of human sex trafficking at the Sochi Olympics when she was recruited for a reporting job that turned out to be bogus.
Brittney Cason from Charlotte, North Carolina, was approached by a talent agent hiring U.S. reporters to cover the Winter Olympics last September.
Writing on xojane.com, she explained how she became suspicious when after a lengthy application process the 'agent' asked her if she had any 'girlfriends' she take with her, offering them visas with no interview process, eventually prompting action from the F.B.I.
Brittney Cason, a former cheerleader for U.S. major league football, was contacted in September 2013 via her website by a man claiming to be a talent acquisition agent.
Ms Cason said: 'Given my background in sports broadcasting hosting a nationally syndicated motorsports show and working on sports talk radio, it made sense he was recruiting me.'
Ms Cason was asked to submit examples of her work, and audition several times, before she was told by a Los Angeles production company that she had got the job with the network as a host and beat reporter for the games.
In addition to Ms Cason, the production company said they had also hired another legitimate sportscaster in North Carolina to work alongside her.
Her suspicions were raised two weeks before she was set to leave for Sochi, when the 'talent agent' said he needed to expand the coverage team and asked if she had any 'girlfriends' in the industry she could recommend.
His assistant (who, after investigation into his IP address, turned out to be him) sent her documents for her friend to get a work visa.
Too good to be true: An agent of a trafficking ring attempted to lure a young sportscaster to Sochi under the guise of a job opportunity
Ms Cason said: 'I spent four months applying and interviewing and he's sending my friend a work visa without even seeing her work?
'Now, my friend is really talented, but wanting her passport and social security number before her reel (reporting and presenting clips) just seemed fishy to me.'
Ms Cason contacted the other sportscaster who was supposed to be going to Sochi with her and they investigated the talent agency further.
She said: 'She and I concocted a plan to contact the production company in LA directly to check his credentials without stepping on his toes in the event we were just being paranoid.'
The Sochi Winter Olympics have been a great draw for wannabe sportscasters trying to make a name for themselves in sports coverage, but some still claim it remains a dangerous area
Upon their investigation it turned out that the production company didn't know who he was, and advised them not to travel to Russia, and instead contact lawyers, who eventually contacted the F.B.I.
Ms Cason remarked how she was shocked at the amount of effort the 'talent agent' had put in to the scheme.
She said: 'The man exerted as much effort as a full time job to pose as legitimate - and never once crossed the line.
'Rather, he posed as a devout family man - We got the results back and suddenly needed the F.B.I.'
On the day that she was set to leave, bags packed and flights booked, Cason was instead negotiating with her lawyers and the F.B.I, as it turned out that the 'talent acquisition agency' was most likely a front for a sex trafficking ring.
Hand in hand: The Winter Olympics, like many grand sporting events, have been as beneficial to the broadcasting industry as they have to the sporting communuity
According to Jillian Mourning, founder of the non-profit All We Want is Love, a charity that attempts to help victims of human trafficking, it is common for men to pose as talent agents in order to lure and traffic women.
Ms Cason said: 'So many of the stories I've heard from survivors start with "I was hired for a modelling job".'
Mourning told her: 'The Olympics is a huge draw for trafficking.
'It's a major sporting event in a foreign country, and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries.'
Ms Cason added: 'Either way, this wasn't going to end well.
'Unfortunately I am not the daughter of Liam Neeson, so I wouldn't have had a happy ending had I gotten on a plane.
'For any young girl wanting to get into the business the first step is to seek a credible agent.
'If you have to pay money for an audition, that's a red flag for a business scam.'