Pinellas County

Deputies: Pinellas woman backtracks on 'human trafficking' claims in viral video

DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) - The Pinellas County woman who went viral with claims of human trafficking crimes occurring at stores like Publix is admitting to a "big mistake."

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office tells 8 On Your Side that Lynne Perry admitted to investigators that she should never have used the term "human trafficking" to describe the alleged incidents happening in the Dunedin area. 

Perry, in speaking to News Channel 8 by phone on Tuesday afternoon, says she sticks by her stories of "creepy men" stalking female shoppers at stores in Pinellas County, such as the Publix on Curlew Road.

While Perry admits her mistake in light of the unexpected attention the video has received, she hopes some good can come out of raising awareness of stalking occurrences targeting women in the Tampa Bay area. 


Perry also confirmed to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that she never filed a police report for the August incident, when she says she was forced to confront a man following her around a store.

Perry shared the Facebook Live video on Sunday, claiming that female shoppers, including herself, have been targeted by men seeking to snatch potential victims from stores in Pinellas County. The video, which has the title "PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE DANGER OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING!!," has surpassed 2 million views on Facebook.  

"I had a man follow me throughout the store," said Perry. "They are just looking to grab people."

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office tells 8 On Your Side that their detectives haven't investigated any reports of human trafficking in more than 18 months. 

Publix, the grocery store chain that Perry mentions in her video, sent us a response.

“Thank you for taking the time to contact us.  We appreciate the trust you have placed in us to address your concern.  The well-being and safety of our customers and associates is always a top priority at Publix, and we are working closely with local law enforcement..."

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office issued this statement on their Facebook page:

Many of you have reached out in reference to a video posted on Facebook highlighting the dangers of "human trafficking."

At this time, there is no evidence to suggest the suspicious person complaints referenced in the video are related to human trafficking. We strongly encourage everyone to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times, however, it is also important to report all suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately no matter how insignificant you think it is.


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