Deputies debunk viral FB post after mom accuses 3 men of sex trafficking at Highlands Ranch store

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 21:40:09-04

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- Douglas County Deputies say a viral Facebook post from a concerned Lakewood mother accusing three Egyptian men of sex trafficking isn't true, and the men did nothing criminal.

The post was shared on the popular Word of Mouth - Highlands Ranch community Facebook group and quickly went viral.

Fifty thousand people shared the post, and thousands more commented with anger towards the men before it was taken down. 

It started with a warning to "be on the lookout" and "remain aware of your surroundings."

The post included several photos of the men the young mother claimed were buying kids' clothes at the Ross in Highlands Ranch and following her and her two children around.

She called it "sex trafficking behavior at its best" and said to "keep your kids close" and "your mom senses up."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said deputies were called to the store and walked the woman to her car because she felt uncomfortable.

Deputies said they did contact the three men, but said they did nothing criminal and were actually in town from Egypt on business.

"Semi hysterical, not very reasonable, implicitly racist," that's how defense attorney Dan Recht described the post.

Even though what the woman wrote isn't true, Recht said it's not against the law.

"We have a first amendment that protects all kinds of speech, not just accurate speech," he said.

If the woman had threatened the men in the post, Recht said that would have been a different story.

"Those are actionable," he said. "There is the potential of bringing a lawsuit for invasion of privacy, but even then, these are photos that were taken in a public place so that's unlikely." 

Recht also explained why he doesn't believe the men have a slander or libel civil case.

"This is this woman's opinion about what these men might have been doing, she didn't make a false statement," he said. "[Slander] requires that someone makes a false statement knowing that they are false."

While no one did anything illegal, Recht said words still have consequences.

"Harm innocent people like these three men with seemingly dark skin who were in the store who police determined did nothing wrong," said Recht.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office asks that people confirm the facts with them before posting rumors on Facebook. 

This isn't the first time it's happened. About a month ago, deputies said another Facebook post accused a man of trying to sex traffic their children in the parking lot at a Douglas County Library.

In that case, deputies said the man moved the woman's stroller so he could get into his car.

The Sheriff's Office also said they don't have any current sex trafficking incidents like this in Douglas County.

Although the post has since been deleted, you can find the text from the original post below. See photos that were included in the post in the videos above.

"Moms/Dads/Teens be on the lookout and remain aware of your surroundings. Today, at the Ross in Highlands Ranch I had an unbelievable encounter that resulted in police being called and staff being worried. Take a look at these three men. Not the best pictures but they were aware that I was aware they were doing something strange and tried not to look directly at me when my phone was out.

Long story short the heavy set man walked into Ross the same time I did, I only remember this because internally I chuckled at his man purse. He followed me around the store a little too close for my liking, so I made a point to keep my kids in the cart and my purse on me....he seemed to be there almost every time I looked up or at least looking in my direction. I got in line to check out and he got right behind me after being upfront already, and started texting someone who showed up at the front of the store by the doors. I got a mom instinct feeling and audibly said 'oh we forgot to get you something' to my son and I walked out of line. So did the heavy set man. He waited next to the check out and all of the sudden his friend was right next to me.

I went back near the line and he did too and the heavy set man got behind me with his friend. Out of no where a third man in red shows up. At this point my senses are ON permanently as I looked in his cart and only saw weird items like teen girls clothes, women's shoes, kids clothes. I got away from the line a third time and so did they. I finally decided to have a friend come up to the store as she lived across the road basically, and I also wrote out a message on my phone to the cashier that something was not right. I got BACK in line and red shirt man got behind me with the original guys cart, while the other two split. One was trying to make change at the register while I was checking out, the other was at the entrance texting.

I shoved my phone to the cashier, who bless her heart, had already noticed this behavior. I asked her to please 'scan my coupon' and she read my note and notified the other cashiers and security/other employees that were free.

After I checked out the man decided he no longer needed change, and left right behind me. The employees walked out with me and as soon as we went out the doors the three men followed behind. As soon as the creepy feeling became too much I turned around and said I forgot my phone inside to the cashier and security guy. To no surprise, the three men turned around and walked back to the entrance and waited...picked up their phone to talk and waved at a black SUV that was coming that turned around. They started walking in that direction but didn't leave.

The employees said call the cops, which I already planned to do at that point. My friend showed up, and cops showed up 10 minutes later. They talked to the men, and took their passports to run them. They are 'visiting' on a business trip from Egypt.....buying little girls and women's clothes???? Anyway, the cops kept them in place while my friend and I walked from the store, when we pulled out they were creepy smiling and low-key waved to me. My friend followed behind to make sure no one in that car pulled out behind me nor anyone else.

I can't say WHAT the true intentions were but I have 2 little kids and I am a young 20s, noticeably have a baby bump 7 months along. And by the weird shit they kept throwing in the cart I'm not too shy to say this is sex trafficking behavior at its best. Please keep your kids close and secure in the store, and be aware: keep your mom senses up.

The pictures posted show how they were all NOT together in the store, then all of the sudden congregated at the end and you can see the items in the cart are the same....they just kept getting back in line behind me and waiting outside the line for me to get back in. The one of the man in the long sweatshirt coming inside was AFTER I had walked back inside the store to call the cops. They insisted they were waiting for an uber. I call bull. The car they called to turned around and left when they waved them off as the cops pulled up. This was terrifying and for other people to notice the behavior as well was just scary.


If you have encountered anything similar in the area PLEASE alert police because no information can be too little once it all adds up. Comments have been turned off. Far too many people starting racial debates and that is not the intention of this post at ALL! At least 3 other women have reported the same activity today nearby through the comments or messages of the same exact men. Also, one Uber driver messaged me saying he picked these dudes up from a hotel and they struck him as extremely creepy/off. People are starting to throw out that I am "profiling" because I mentioned they are egyptian....the POLICE told me and I was RELAYING that information. They could have been white and still just as creepy! Trust me, I see no race or nationality when it comes to creepy people."