Sarah and Jacob* were ecstatic when they were given the chance to move the United States. The small town in their country had no job opportunities and no access to education. A close family friend had arranged the whole thing and assured them they would be okay. They were ready and excited for their new life.
When they arrived in Virginia their friend wasn’t there, but someone who said they knew him was waiting for them at the airport. Their friend had arranged for them to stay at one of his apartments until they could make enough money to get their own place.
Once they arrived Sara and Jacob were told the rent was $3,000 a month for a small one-bedroom apartment in order to cover all of the costs the friend incurred from helping them move. Once settled in he told them they would have to pay 20% interest. They were charged for every ride to and from work and the utilities were another $800 a month. When they started asking questions he took their documents and threatened to call law enforcement if they didn’t comply. They were also told their family would be killed if they told anyone what was going on.
Fearing for their own safety, with no money, no documentation, and insufficient English, they had no choice but to cooperate. The risk to their family and their own safety was too great.
Thanks to a tip from a community member and our partnership with a federal agency, The Gray Haven was able to facilitate their rescue and assist them with transitioning into a healthy and free life in Richmond, Virginia.