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The Tate Brothers and the Basics of “Romeo Pimping”

Andrew Tate, wearing sunglasses, sitting in front of a microphone.

Photo Credit: Anything Goes With James English is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Social media personality Andrew Tate is behind bars in Romania, amid rape and human trafficking allegations. In the press release about Tate’s arrest, Romanian officials said that Tate and his brother Tristan recruited victims by making them believe they were interested in having real romantic relationships with them, transporting them to live in houses where they were forced to act in porn videos that were sold online.

Tate has told news media he is no trafficker – since he didn’t physically force the victims to come to his home. Clearly, the Tates do not understand how trafficking works – at least under U.S law and – apparently, in Romania.

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In the United States, what the Tate brothers are accused of is sometimes called Romeo pimping. A Romeo pimp lures vulnerable individuals – in this case young women – into commercial sex by luring them into romantic relationships. They target victims on social media and form relationships, on and off line. They look for people who are awed by their image and the lifestyle they represent. They promise not just love but a lifestyle.

This intentional building of a fraudulent, coercive relationship has long been a common method of recruitment into trafficking. But social media has clearly made it easier. 

“My job was to meet a girl, go on a few dates, sleep with her… get her to fall in love with me, to where she’d do anything I say, and then get her on web-cam so we could become rich together.”

– Andrew Tate

In recent years the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, which Polaris operates, has recorded a considerable increase in online recruitment for human trafficking. In 2020 there was a 125% increase in reports of recruitment on Facebook and a 95% increase on Instagram compared with 2019. While some of that is recruitment into labor trafficking situations via online ads, much of it is recruitment that begins with a false relationship – love, used as a weapon.

To hear how real survivors were trafficked by people they had been defrauded into loving and trusting, head to our page on love and trafficking.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.