Furniture marketplace Wayfair was forced to address accusations of sex trafficking after an elaborate PizzaGate-esque conspiracy drawing connections between the names of ‘overpriced’ items and ‘missing children’ went viral.
The speculation was apparently kicked off on Reddit with user PrincessPeach1987 posting a screenshot of the furniture seller’s WFX Utility cabinet collection to the site’s r/conspiracy forum that highlighted the sky-high prices (between $12,699.99 and $14,499.99 for a single cabinet) and the odd names – like Samiyah, Alyvia, Yaritza, and Neriah – which allegedly matched the names of missing children.
“Is it possible Wayfair involved in Human trafficking with their WFX Utility collection? Or are these just extremely overpriced cabinets?” she asked.
Amateur sleuths combing Wayfair’s site immediately found oddities well beyond the cabinets section, including absurdly-priced throw pillows and “one of a kind” rugs that also appeared to share the names of missing children.
The rumors quickly spiraled out of control on social media, with some confused users claiming Wayfair was actually shipping trafficked children inside the pricey cabinets – something absent from the original posting – while others suggested plugging the SKU numbers of the suspect merchandise into a search engine would turn up photos of the child “for sale” under a particular product name.
Still others observed Wayfair had started scrubbing its site of the “incriminating” material – surely an admission of guilt!
Despite a lack of any factual proof behind the disturbing allegations, the story got so much attention that Wayfair issued a statement denying them.
A site spokeswoman told Fox Business the company had “temporarily removed the products” in order to “rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos” to justify the high prices.
“There is, of course, no truth to these claims,” the statement read, calling the items “accurately-priced” and citing their “industrial grade” as the reason for the high dollar amounts.
As for the $9,999 throw pillows and $15,999 baby photo albums, those were due to a “glitch,” Wayfair said.
And “industrial grade” throw pillows too. Oh wait, you just did an emergency update to rename them and changed the price too. That’s some deep discounts🤷♂️ But why change the names too? Nothing fishy, sure. pic.twitter.com/K8q2lUMTox
— Elvis K (@President46Yang) July 11, 2020
Similar “utility-grade” cabinets to those sold on Wayfair’s site retail for under $1,000, and while a few users ventured that the absurd prices were in lieu of listing the items as “out of stock,” others pushed back against that explanation.
Please 🙄 I operate plenty of shops for companies way smaller than Wayfair, and there’s plenty of ways to take an out of stock product off the site without pricing it at $15,000+ wtf. It sounded good https://t.co/vLf7zXFB5Z
— jaygust (@jay__aye) July 10, 2020
Unsurprisingly, the company’s denials only fueled further speculation, as pedo-hunters demanded to know why Wayfair was changing product names and memory-holing the “evidence,” while others merely rolled their eyes at the idea of taking the site’s word on whether or not it was trafficking children.
Several pointed to the rapid-response “fact-checks” by Snopes and the Poynter Institute as “proof” Wayfair was up to no good.
The furniture retailer has come under fire before, facing a boycott and an employee walkout over selling beds to the Trump administration’s immigrant detention centers.