Early on July 10, a new conspiracy theory began trending on social media concerning American furniture retailer Wayfair. The conspiracy theory states that some of the cabinets on Wayfair’s website were being used for human trafficking because they were listed at high prices and many had strange names. To be clear, there is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory and Wayfair has firmly rejected the claims.
Wayfair told Heavy in an emailed statement: “There is, of course, no truth to these claims. The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced.” The company explained why the items in question had been removed from the site:
Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point.
The conspiracy theory seems to have originated on the /r/conspiracy subreddit when a user named PrincessPeach1987 said that cabinets listed on Wayfair by vendor WFX Utility were priced over $10,000 and had distinctive names like “Yaritza” or “Samiyah.” The user suggested that these names could be placeholders for humans and human trafficking.
A Twitter user with the handle @edmmariluna posted about the conspiracy on Twitter and her post has since received over 215,000 likes and 87,000 retweets. Another user posted a series of photos on Twitter of the cabinets side-by-side with news articles about missing children with the same names as the cabinets. However, as Snopes pointed out, “while this may seem suspicious to those seeking a pattern, it should be noted that roughly 800,000 children are reported missing every year,” and that some of the names of missing children connected to this theory have already been solved.
One user replied to the original Reddit post and said they had contacted the human trafficking hotline and a case was being opened. Heavy contacted Polaris, the organization responsible for the National Human Trafficking Hotline, who said that due to confidentiality reasons, they could not provide more information or confirm whether they had received tips about the conspiracy.
The Reddit user who first posted about the conspiracy spoke anonymously with Newsweek and said they are “involved in a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking” which means they are “suspicious most of the time now.” However, they said they weren’t directly accusing the brand but just wanted to raise their concerns.
Many people took to Twitter to share their disbelief at the conspiracy. Reporter Ben Collins wrote:
Pizzagate/QAnon people have Wayfair trending today. They falsely claim price glitches on storage boxes prove that the company is trafficking children. This took off because of a post on Reddit’s r/conspiracy subreddit yesterday, which is a clearinghouse for anonymous paranoia. We’re living in a second, more profound and politically important Satanic Panic. This time, everyone’s in on it. People will look for coincidences as narrow and stupid as pricing glitches on furniture sites as ‘proof’ a global cabal is eating children and controlling the world.
Journalist Aaron Gouveia wrote: “The QAnon and Pizzagate morons are working overtime today claiming Wayfair is trafficking children based on high prices on oversized cabinets online. I shit you not. There are people who actually believe this. Ignorance is the far more worrisome disease.” Another person posted:
This is just implacably ridiculous. No one is delivering huge boxes of live children to you from China. (97% of #Wayfair products come from China.) Find better hobbies, folks. If you are worried about child trafficking, the Trump admin has been doing it at the border since 2017.
— Victoria Brownworth #MasksSaveLives (@VABVOX) July 10, 2020
The post reads:
So the latest conspiracy is that #Wayfair is selling trafficked children in armoires off its website. You all never bought anything from Wayfair, did you? Everything arrives in 500 pieces with directions in Chinese to build it yourself. You’d have to build the kid, too. This is just implacably ridiculous. No one is delivering huge boxes of live children to you from China. (97% of #Wayfair products come from China.) Find better hobbies, folks. If you are worried about child trafficking, the Trump admin has been doing it at the border since 2017.