A North Dakota woman has turned a simple case of having the wrong phone number into an incredible one-woman fight against sex trafficking.
Julie Zimney recently bought a cell phone for her 11-year-old son so she could keep an eye on him when he isn't at home. But when he began receiving explicit messages from unknown numbers, Zimney decided to investigate.
"There wasn't anything too detailed in the beginning, but then as we started getting more and more, they began getting more detailed where people were saying, 'Do you have any first-time specials? I've never done this before.' So it became pretty obvious what was going on," she told the Grand Forks Herald.
Zimney didn't respond to the messages but thought they were coming from the ex boyfriends of whoever used to own her son's number.
When the messages didn't stop, she realized they were coming from men looking to pay for sex.
Zimney responded to one of the men, asking him why he kept texting her son's number. The man was just as shocked to find out he had been contacting a child this whole time. He told her the number was listed on an adult website.
Zimney, who has experience in fighting human trafficking, contacted the police.
"If I am in a position that I can potentially help somebody then I want to try to do that. I've started collecting all the information and have a running list," she said. "I know I can change my number. I've done it before...The reason I didn't do that is because of the work that I've done, it didn't just sit right with me to turn a blind eye to something that was going on."
"With sex trafficking and human trafficking, it's a supply and demand issue. If we can strangle that demand and catch 'Johns' and give harsher sentences, obviously that's going to help protect the women and children in these situations," Zimney added.
She said her son is proud of her for going to the police.
"He said to me, 'You know, it's really cool that you're doing this because most people would've just changed their number and not even thought about it," she said. "I think that meant a lot and showed me there's people watching. Our little people are watching us. We always talk about doing the right thing and treating others a certain way, but we can't just say those things, we need to take action and do something."