Interpretable models for the automated detection of human trafficking in illicit massage businesses
Tobey, M., Li, R., Ozaltin, O. Y., Mayorga, M. E., & Caltagirone, S. (2022, August 28). IISE TRANSACTIONS.
Sexually oriented establishments across the United States often pose as massage businesses and force victim workers into a hybrid of sex and labor trafficking, simultaneously harming the legitimate massage industry. Stakeholders with varied goals and approaches to dismantling the illicit massage industry all report the need for multi-source data to clearly and transparently identify the worst offenders and highlight patterns in behaviors. We utilize findings from primary stakeholder interviews with law enforcement, regulatory bodies, legitimate massage practitioners, and subject-matter experts from nonprofit organizations to identify data sources and potential indicators of illicit massage businesses (IMBs). We focus our analysis on data from open sources in Texas and Florida including customer reviews and business data from Yelp.com, the U.S. Census, and GIS files such as truck stop, highway, and military base locations. We build two interpretable prediction models, risk scores and optimal decision trees, to determine the risk that a given massage establishment is an IMB. The proposed multi-source data-based approach and interpretable models can be used by stakeholders at all levels to save time and resources, serve victim-workers, and support well informed regulatory efforts.