Secrets of the Trade: Crafting a Fake Identity to Save Vulnerable Children from Traffickers

About the Podcast

Welcome back to another exhilarating episode of Liberating Humanity, the podcast that explores courageous missions to rescue vulnerable children from the clutches of human traffickers. I’m your host, Paul Hutchinson, and today’s episode, titled “Secrets of the Trade: Crafting a Fake Identity to Save Vulnerable Children from Traffickers,” will take us deep into the clandestine world of undercover operations and elaborate deception.

In this gripping installment, we delve into a Homeland Security agent’s dangerous decision to go public with the stunning success of a covert operation targeting child traffickers. As the risks became too great for him to remain on the front lines, a team of elite agents, including Navy Seals and Green Berets, bravely stepped in to continue the fight and pick up where he left off.

Our speaker, a former CIA operator with years of undercover experience, recounts a heart-stopping story set in Columbia. Urgently summoned for a life-saving operation, they find themselves entangled with an escaped convict involved in the trafficking trade. Through meticulous investigation and the help of subpoenas to access crucial digital evidence, a dangerous web of connections begins to unravel.

But how does one navigate this treacherous world without compromising their true identity? Our speaker reveals the secrets of crafting a fake online persona, complete with old photos, carefully tailored social media profiles, and even a burner phone. With every step, they stayed one step ahead of their adversaries, building trust within trafficking rings and becoming an invaluable asset in the race against time.

Join us today as we uncover the intricate strategies employed by our brave speaker, from luring traffickers using a captivating online presence to developing an extensive network of undercover contacts in the dark underbelly of the industry. Their determination and resourcefulness ultimately culminated in the rescue of over 120 victims, making a resounding impact in the fight against child trafficking.

So buckle up and get ready to delve into the thrilling world of undercover operations as we uncover the secrets of crafting a fake identity to save vulnerable children from the clutches of human traffickers, right here on Liberating Humanity. Let’s dive in.

Transcript

[mks_toggle title=”Read Transcript” state=”closed”]Paul Hutchinson [00:00:09]:

The undercover rescue mission depicted in The Sound of Freedom in Cartagena, Colombia. It changed my life completely. Standing in front of or sitting in a chair in front of these children that were being sold, and the tear stains on their face, scared to death. I made a commitment that I would do whatever was needed to rescue these kids. If I could use my money, if I could use my resources, if I could use my face, whatever it was to play a role or to donate money, whatever we could do to help rescue these children, I was all in. And I was talking to the attorney general. I was talking to the Homeland Security agent, and I said, what can I do? What do you need help with? I was going to buy a Lamborghini that spring. I actually had the one that was picked out.

Paul Hutchinson [00:01:00]:

It was a wide Aventador, a gorgeous car, and it was a convertible top, hundreds of thousands of dollars. And I said, you know what? I’m not going to buy that car. Instead, I want to donate the money. What do you need? What do you need? And I was told this number one, the parties, like the one that we did in Cartagena, Colombia, happened all the time. There were wealthy business owners. There was wealthy, connected politicians and others who were going to second and third world countries and doing horrible things to these kids. And my profile worked perfectly in Cartagena because these traffickers were able to see my playboy lifestyle and my running this big fund and all of these things, and said, wow, yeah, that’s the kind of guy that comes down for these parties. And they were able to bring all of the children from all the other traffickers together and ended up in the rescue of 54 children in Cartagena with a total of over 120 victims between three separate cities.

Paul Hutchinson [00:02:06]:

It was an amazing operation and was super effective. And so at the time, the Homeland Security agent said, look, I want to go public. I want to be on CNN, ABC. And in that position, it became more dangerous for him to physically be deep cover and finding the children and meeting with the traffickers face to face. So a lot of the other agents, all the undercover operators, these Navy Seals, Green Beret said, yeah, we’ll continue finding these kids, and it works out really well if we can show these traffickers, this wealthy buyer that’s coming. Down that way. They pull together all of the inventory that they have and they connect us with other traffickers and bring them all together in the same place at the same time. And so that first operation, when I got the call from Tim, he said, Paul, can you be in Columbia in two days? There wasn’t time to set up an undercover profile.

Paul Hutchinson [00:03:03]:

I on the Cartagena Columbia mission. I didn’t go down as Paul Black, Paul Stone, Paul Steele, any of these undercover operator names. Later, I went down as Paul Hutchinson. I was me. They showed pictures of me in my Facebook page, and I had a pretty nice lifestyle, and it showed some pictures of me on yachts and things like that. Well, moving forward, if I was going to continue, I needed to remove the real me from social media. I needed to remove the real me from anything online that would tie my face to my home, my kids, my family, etc. And we needed to create a fake profile.

Paul Hutchinson [00:03:42]:

So my assistant at the time was named Kitty. And Kitty is she’s one of the most brilliant and witty people that I’ve ever worked with. And she can type faster than I can think, literally. I mean, my kids joke about it all the time. Dad, you probably think slow, but yeah, she types faster than I can think. We would be in conversations and I would say, hey, I want you to can we send an email to this guy? She’s already done. I mean, she’s already got them done before I even verbalize what needs to be done next. Brilliant.

Paul Hutchinson [00:04:10]:

And so I said, Kitty, here’s what we need to do. Number one, we need to take down anything relating to the real me. So let’s close down my Paul Hutchinson Facebook, my Instagram, my I don’t even remember what the social medias were I had back then and the one that I kept on LinkedIn. Take my face off of it. Just put the name of the picture of the company on there. The board of directors on Bridge Investment Group that I was with. Can we talk to the board? And let’s take down my face, anything that’s tying my face to that and anything else that we can find online. And so it was painstaking.

Paul Hutchinson [00:04:46]:

There was a few little videos of me and some other things online that were tying the real me to this persona. Then I already had pictures of me with supercars and on jets and lamborghinis and parties and traveling the world. And a lot of the stuff I didn’t want to put on my real Facebook and stuff page because it was look at me, whatever, but I was living somewhat in that was, you know, it wasn’t anything illegal, but it was ego, right? And it was arrogance, and it was look at me. I wasn’t Paul Hutchinson. I was Paul F and Hutchinson. I had built this big company and I had all of these things, and so I had those pictures available. And she started creating a collage of different pictures that we could start using online. And then I said, okay, here’s what we need.

Paul Hutchinson [00:05:35]:

I have to have a fake profile. I have to have something online where everybody can go and these undercover operators can go and show them this real me. And I want to still be Paul, because there’s a million Paul’s in the world. And so they’re not going to tie that one to me, but I need to change my last name and my persona. So I said, can you set up an undercover profile, just a brand new fake profile for me under the name Paul Johnson. And she’s sitting there typing all this notes and stuff. And she stops and she looks up at me and she said, you have a chance to redefine yourself and you’re going to be Paul Johnson. She said.

Paul Hutchinson [00:06:19]:

How about Paul Stone? I’m like, oh, that’s badass, right? So she sets up this Paul stone profile online in order for it to look legit. Number one, we put dates on these pictures that were a year old and five years old and whatever else, and you upload those according to those dates, and it populated it as if it was those dates back then. I think that algorithms have changed and it just comes up according to when you put them on. But it looked like I had some history there then. I needed to have some friends, but I couldn’t have anybody tied to the real me. And we did some things like I didn’t know how sophisticated these trafficking rings would be and I didn’t want to risk it. And so every time that we would log in to the social media profiles, it was imperative that we would log in using a VPN network so that nothing was ever tied to us logging in from the location that we were in Utah. So we log in through a VPN and on the social media platforms, you are asked what your previous jobs were.

Paul Hutchinson [00:07:23]:

Well, this was awesome because what I did is I found some risque modeling companies in Latin America, right, and that were legit companies. And I put in that I used to work for. I was a photographer or a model scout for this risque company, whatever else. And then what it would do is it would give me a whole bunch of friend suggestions of people that worked for that risque modeling company, right? So I was able to do friend requests. And of course they want to be friends with Paul Stone. He’s got pictures of him with Lamborghinis and Ferraris and jets and yachts and all this crap, right? And so pretty soon, within like a few days, I had 100 plus friends that had no connection at all to the real me. Then we go in and take these friends, and these friends had friends in common because they all worked with the same company. So I would then try to friend request their friends and pretty soon I’m friend requesting people that we have 18 to 25 friends in common.

Paul Hutchinson [00:08:23]:

So it was super easy to take that up to hundreds of real people that were all over the world that were working in these CD industries and whatnot that would be friends with this playboy Paul stone type of a character. So that was all set up. Now, we needed to set up something that would be an undercover phone number and an address and everything. I first of all, I went into Walmart, and I bought a burner phone, right? So a phone, and I paid cash for it. So I go in, I pay cash for this phone, pay cash for the card to load some minutes on it and all this stuff. Now, I have a phone number that’s attached to this phone. Now, with that legitimate phone number, now I can set up a backup Google voice number, because a lot of times they want to have a reference. So now I can get a google voice number with a reference to a real phone number, quote, quote.

Paul Hutchinson [00:09:17]:

And now I have a Google voice one. And then with that Google voice, I then set up a gmail account. I was Paul Stone, and at the time, I wanted to stay within the same industry, so that when undercover, if I’m asked questions or whatever else about what, then I know not. I don’t have to learn a whole new industry. And so I decided that we would be Paul stone capital. So I’m not Paul Hutchinson. I’m Paul Stone. I didn’t live in Utah.

Paul Hutchinson [00:09:44]:

I live in Southern California. Don’t run Bridge Investment Group. I run paul Stone Capital. And we set up the Facebook, the instagram, all of these things, and then the web page itself. There was a guy by the name of Preston. Preston heard me speak about the joyous sound of the children and the sound of freedom that happened at the end of that rescue mission in Colombia. He said, what can I do? What can I do to help? And I said, well, what are your skill sets? He goes, well, one of my companies makes web pages. I said, awesome, that’s great.

Paul Hutchinson [00:10:14]:

Let’s do that. So we had him set up a Paul Stone capital webpage. This thing was legit. I mean, it had real estate projects that Paul stone capital was funding and pictures of me in these different places. It was legit, as legit as some of my other companies, the real companies that I had. So now I have a business card. It’s got now a Paul at Paul stone capital email address. I’ve got a new phone number that’s all attached to everything, and I google voice, transfer that number so that my phone would ring if it ever did.

Paul Hutchinson [00:10:48]:

Now, that saved my life on one of the missions, and we’ll talk about that one later. But having those phone numbers attached, making sure that they would actually ring to the phone that I had, memorizing that phone number, memorizing the address that we had. And from an address standpoint, I needed to have something that wasn’t easy for somebody to find out that I didn’t really have the address there. And so I found a super secure building in downtown Los Angeles, one where you’ve got to go in and give your name and your birth date and your history and fingerprints and all this crap just to be able to get through the security to the point where you can get into the rest of the building. And even from there, you have to have an escort person, security person, that takes you to the different places in the building. So I just picked a random suite number on the 15th floor or whatever of one of these buildings and put that as our suite number and the address, memorize that address. So now I’ve got a full fake profile set up where we can go in undercover, meet with these traffickers, and there’s no ties to the real me. I’m completely protected in all ways.

Paul Hutchinson [00:11:55]:

But they could show my profile, they could show my web page, they could show all of this stuff for when they were bringing in these traffickers. So that was the setup of Paul Stone. Now that this profile is set up, we had teams, and this is the foundation I was working with at the time. They had teams already of operators that would go in undercover, would meet with different traffickers in these areas, and then they had this tool. This tool was my profile. They could say, hey, this guy’s coming down in a couple of weeks. And so the traffickers get excited about it, and then I would fly in, they would see my real face, and they remembered seeing it all online, legitimatized the entire operation for the traffickers that were bringing in the children that they had for sale. And so from there, they were able to set up these stings in which we could go in.

Paul Hutchinson [00:12:46]:

They would bring my protection, the Navy Seals, Green Berets, who were my real bodyguards and my show bodyguards, according to the traffickers. And it wasn’t weird for them for me to have bodyguards like that, because I’m this guy that’s writing the checks for these events or paying for the parties or whatnot for the kids. Here’s the crazy thing. I was asked to continue in this role, but nobody volunteered to help set up this profile for me. It was me going, okay, I don’t really want to go back down as Paul Hutchinson anymore. And so this was me sitting down with Kitty and saying, we’ve got to figure out how if I’m going to continue doing this, we’ve got to figure out how to do it safely. And so there wasn’t any agents. In fact, what’s super crazy is later when all of this stuff was set up, in fact, when I figured out how to effectively send money to the traffickers covertly and things like that, these guys are like, holy crap, how did you do that? How did you set that? These are guys that worked for the government for ten plus years, and I was able to effectively set up a system where I could communicate with the traffickers I was secure.

Paul Hutchinson [00:14:01]:

In fact, years later, it was a crazy and I’ll tell you the details on this op later, but one of the traffickers that I had connected with was an escaped convict from the US. And us agencies had been trying to find him for a long time, and they tracked him down, and they got a subpoena from google to go into his gmail. And when they did, they get in his gmail, and they see this connection back and forth between him and this paul stone guy, this guy who was wanting to have parties and wondering what kids he had available, et cetera. So they’re like, oh, wow, this paul stone guy, he’s a bad dude. So then they get a google subpoena for paul stone, my gmail, and then they go into that, and there’s connections and emails back and forth between paul stone and traffickers in haiti and traffickers in thailand, and traffickers in dominican republic and traffickers in mexico, all of these. And they’re like, oh, wow, this guy’s a bit. But even they couldn’t find a connection to find out who I was. The only thing that I messed up on that, the only thing that I messed up on was I had one of the emails that I had forwarded from one of the traffickers I had forwarded to one of our operators who was former CIA.

Paul Hutchinson [00:15:22]:

He had worked undercover CIA for about ten plus years. And because I had sent him that email, they’re like, okay, this is interesting. There’s one that was sent to him. So they were able to identify who he was, and they interviewed him, and that was the only way that they were able to find out who I was. And that’s a whole story that got super crazy later. But it was great that I was able to set something up so securely that even high level traffickers with ability to hack into emails and stuff like that were not able to identify who I was before I came down on those operations. Why were there no safety protocols? And why was your team that you were working with so comfortable with putting you out there the real answer, the real answer? Honestly, looking back, I think it was more about them and the video and the production than the safety it really was. Now, they provided some safety.

Paul Hutchinson [00:16:23]:

When I got there, there was some green berets and AV seals that picked me up at the airport and all of these things. But looking back, there wasn’t anything set in place to protect the real me. In fact, I didn’t even know. We didn’t have this discussion until after the operation, wherein I was told, hey, by the way, it wasn’t just you, your face down here, but we told these guys who you were beforehand, and they looked online. And my business partner, he came to me super concerned afterwards. He said, paul, just so you know, I contacted our guys who are running our website, and there’s been pings on our website from people in Colombia. So there are people in Colombia that are looking at you and our website and things like that. And this is early on in the fund, but that was a concern for them, for me, and for everybody else.

Paul Hutchinson [00:17:13]:

And we’re like, oh, we’re putting everybody at risk here. Fortunately, those guys all went to prison and we kept tracking to see if there was any residual views on the website after they all went to jail and there wasn’t anything. So we were good. But at the time, those guys who had been doing this for twelve years didn’t provide that extra level of safety for me and the company and everything else before I went down. So, yeah, it was an extra level of risk. Also. If you’re watching this right now and you want to hear more, one of the things that would really help is to go onto whether it’s your Apple or Spotify or whatever else, and rate and review the podcast. Please do that.

Paul Hutchinson [00:17:54]:

It makes a huge difference in the number of people in the eyeballs that are going to see this, and in return, the movement that we can create of people that are going to combat child trafficking.

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