A Facebook post in a Killeen crime group sparked concern Friday, causing our Channel 6 News team to do some digging.
The original post, now deleted, was a screen shot of a photo post making the rounds on social media. The post includes an image of a young man's business card, says he stopped by a house to sell books and claims he is part of a "child trafficking scheme." That particular post actually originated in McAllen Texas, but it is just one of several versions that have circulated on social media platforms. Various versions have been seen in Waco, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christie, Midland and Odessa -- to name a few.
The problem is, the post is false.
The man pictured was an employee of Southwestern Advantage -- a company that teaches college students how to run their own businesses. Young people, often trying to earn money to afford higher education tuition, are hired to sell books and educational website subscriptions through cold calls and door-to-door sales. While the students are employed in a given city, they live with local host families and open local bank accounts in order to abide by all applicable tax laws and state restrictions. They set up Facebook business pages and acquire applicable city permits before they begin going door-to-door, the company explained to Channel 6 News and provided examples.
Locally, two Polish students are living with host families in Waco and selling the products -- with permits -- as they try to immerse themselves in American culture and learn more about the United States, as part of their studies. Channel 6 News was able to verify that both students had business Facebook pages, were certified with the company and had the applicable permits to run their own small door-to-door book sale businesses locally. Additionally, the students are instructed to make contact with local police to build a relationship, as soon as they arrive in a given city.
Both the Better Business Bureau and the company itself have previously debunked the rumor that these students are anything more that individuals trying to afford educations and pay for their travels in the United States.
Southwestern Advantage has operated an entrepreneurial program for college students since 1868, according to the company. Trey Campbell, a spokesperson for the company, said many alumni live here in Texas -- including former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Baylor President Ken Starr and HGTV 'Fixer Upper' star Chip Gaines.
VERIFY SOURCES: Trey Campbell (Southwestern Advantage), the Better Business Bureau, and Online Employment Records
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