CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Coastal Carolina University says rumors of human trafficking by a religious cult near the school have turned out to be a hoax.
Coastal Carolina said its public safety department was investigating social media “allegations of human trafficking” near campus Wednesday afternoon. Several tweets and other social media posts from CCU students warned about sex trafficking incidents on-campus and one at Tongys Shmack House, a bar and restaurant near Coastal.
A few hours after Coastal announced it was looking into the claims, the school said it was a hoax. In a statement, a CCU spokesperson said “no incidents of human trafficking or religious human sacrifice have been reported to (CCU public safety), Conway police or Horry County police.”
Coastal Carolina is not alone. CCU’s statement also said “unfounded” social media rumors like this have appeared around other communities and colleges.
They usually start the same way.
Somebody claims one or two people asked that person to attend a church or Bible study, mentioning the phrases “God the Mother” or “Mother of God.” It’s supposed to be a lure for human trafficking, but there’s no sign it actually exists.
There’s actually a real “God the Mother” group.
It’s called the World Mission Society Church of God. It started in South Korea in the 1960s and its followers believe in “God the Mother” and “God the Father.”
Despite the rumors on several college campuses, including CCU, there doesn’t appear to be any credible evidence the church is involved in human trafficking.
Danielle Olson, vice president of Coastal’s chapter of the Help Save the Next Girl organization, says hoaxes like this can be scary for women.
“Not a lot of people are actually going to take it seriously, because they always think it can’t happen to them,” Olson said. “For people like me and most of the members of the club, we realize bad things do happen and we try to make sure if we’re out, we’re safe and always have some friends around.”
You can read the whole statement from CCU spokesperson Martha Hunn and the school’s Facebook post about the hoax below.
Coastal Carolina University Department of Public Safety (CCU DPS) has been investigating several social media posts regarding human trafficking allegations. In some of these posts, there are references to “Mother of God.”
CCU DPS states that no incidents of human trafficking or religious human sacrifice have been reported to their department, to Conway Police or Horry County Police.
Similar allegations that appeared on social media in other communities and on other college campuses nationwide were also deemed unfounded, as reported by several media organizations.
Coastal Carolina University takes these allegations very seriously. Anyone who has direct knowledge of any incident of this nature is asked to contact public safety at 843-349-2177.