HOUSTON — A pair of TikTok videos claim a party supply business in Sugar Land was possibly trafficking children by selling the kids on Amazon. It sounds unbelievable, but nonetheless, the videos were watched millions of times.
KHOU 11 also took a tour of the warehouse to see for ourselves.
Ali Momin is the CEO of Ionized LLC. The Sugar Land party supplier has been selling things like glow sticks, beads and sequined hats for more than a decade. A few weeks ago all of that changed.
“Something we didn’t even know how to respond to because it’s so egregious and outrageous,” Momin said.
According to one of the videos posted on TikTok, a man suggests the company may be engaged in illegal behavior.
“Amazon might be involved in trafficking,” the man said in the video. “Take a look at this video tell me what you think.”
The short video was seen millions of times and claims the party hats listed for sale on Ionized LLC’s Amazon seller’s page are so expensive, that something else must be happening.
“These ridiculous prices for these basic hats is exactly why some people think an undercover illegal business is happening right here on Amazon,” the man said in the video.
He also points to the age appropriateness section of the for-sale posts.
“It says ages three months and up,” the man said in the video. “This one says five years and up.”
When KHOU 11 toured the facility last week, we saw lots of novelties, many boxes and a few workers. But we didn’t see any kids. And we didn’t see anything else that would lead a reasonable person to think the shipments leaving the warehouse on Amazon trucks were anything suspicious.
“It’s a devastating blow,” Momin said.
He said the videos have done serious damage to his business.
“The allegations you make affect real people,” Momin said. “The allegations affect our employees and our business.”
He said as more people watched the videos, the harassment escalated. The business received countless calls and emails, defamatory posts on their Amazon seller’s page and even calls to 911.
Sugar Land police officers responded to the business twice after anonymous callers told police it was a hub for human trafficking, according to an SLPD report. An officer who searched the warehouse “didn’t see anything suspicious.”
A spokesperson for the police department said the case was closed when officers determined “no crime occurred, so there was no need for further investigation.”
But the worst of it did not come until earlier this month when business got a notification from Amazon. Ionized LLC’s seller’s account was closed by Amazon without explanation.
“In Amazon sales, we might be losing $15,000 a day right now,” Momin said.
In an emailed response, an Amazon spokesperson said she could not tell KHOU 11 why Ionized LLC’s account was closed but writes, “what I can tell you is it was not related to the conspiracy video you’ve mentioned.”
She said the company's account was reactivated, but according to Momin, the account is still closed.
Momin said Amazon will not give him a reason why it chose to shut down the business’ seller’s account, either.
The Amazon spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up email from KHOU 11 regarding the account’s status prior to Tuesday night’s broadcast.
“I definitely don’t want to see these hats again,” Momin said. “It’s not worth the headache.”
Is the local business operating a child trafficking ring through Amazon?
The answer is no.
The suggestions made in the TikTok conspiracy video are false.