Conspiracy Theories always seem to grow wings of its own and it is so in the case of the one revolving around the US-based furniture giant - Wayfair that has found itself in the center of allegations involving child trafficking.
What is even more worrying is the fact that the Wayfair hoax has gone global similar to the unfounded Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
While the Pizzagate hoax led to a shooting at the Comet Ping Pong on December 4, 2016, the real damages of Wayfair conspiracy theory are yet to be seen.
The Wayfair conspiracy theory began in an internet chatroom aka Reddit where an anonymous user- PrincessPeach1987- posted a question: What if Wayfair is using expensive storage cabinets to traffic children?
Wayfair Claim 1
Within hours of this, conspiracy mongers established that the company may have been selling children online as the names mentioned on the Wayfair products were names of children who have been reported missing. The conspiracy theorists, mostly Pro-Trump QAnon followers, have made supposed links between some expensive Wayfair furniture named after girls, and actual cases of missing children in the US with the same names. [Read Full Report Here]
The so-called Wayfair victims now have begun coming out, in an attempt to squash the false claims.
Thousands of online users on Facebook and Twitter connected the name of one of Wayfair's cabinets, Samiyah, to an outdated missing person report for an Ohio girl named Samiyah Mumin, claiming it was proof that the company is trafficking young girls. Now a woman who is claiming to be the "missing" Samiyah Mumin has filmed a Facebook video to express her anger over the false claims. Mumin was reported missing for four days in May 2019 but was found and is leading a normal life.
"Why am I mad? Because I'm not missing," Mumin said in a Facebook post.
A child from Maryland who was reported missing in April and was being identified as a Wayfair victim by internet conspiracy theorists as his last name matched the name of a pillow, is not missing.
According to the Sheriff's Office of St Mary's county, the boy was found within 24 hours.
Similarly, the conspiracy mongers took a YouTube video of a young London girl sitting on a couch to audition for a Wayfair commercial to claim that she was a victim in the alleged trafficking scheme.
Now the talent agency Alphabet Agency, which represents the girl and her mother, is desperately trying to remove these videos from YouTube and Facebook even as they continue to be viewed by thousands of online users.
Wayfair Claim 2
The conspiracy theories added another twist to the theory stating they had found that when one enters the stock-keeping unit (SKU) numbers of specific Wayfair products into Yandex under the "WFX collection" into the Russian search engine Yandex, the results threw up pictures of young girls.
This theory now has been found to be false. According to Newsweek, a Yandex search for "any random string of numbers" would throw up the same results and will show pictures of girls.
Yandex, however, now has corrected the issue and similar searches no longer show photos of young women.
Conspiracy theory hurting the actual victims
Even as Wayfair has come out and denied the false claims, the conspiracy theory is now increased the workload on the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which provides emergency help to victims.
National Human Trafficking Hotline that already has seen an increase in those emergency shelter assistance because of coronavirus and is now also being inundated with calls from conspiracy theory mongers and this could come in the way of providing timely help to actual victims.
Wayfair vs Pizzagate
The Pizzagate conspiracy theory had gone viral and had spread across the internet when Hillary Clinton was running for US President in 2016. The conspiracy theory claimed that a child sex and human trafficking ring was operated by high-ranking Democratic Party officials from the basement of a Washington D.C. area pizza shop.
The theory claimed that the existence of worldwide pedophilic sex trafficking among the economic elite became so big that an angry US man opened fire in the pizza restaurant.