WHEN two teenage girls showed up at her counter, airline worker Denice Miracle instantly knew that something was very wrong.
The duo, aged 17 and 15 had turned up at Sacramento International Airport in California with no identification. They were travelling alone, with just two small bags, and had two first-class tickets booked by another person using a fraudulent credit card.
They were one-way and multi-leg tickets, further ringing alarm bells.
"Between the two of them, they had a bunch of small bags. It seemed to me as if they were running away from home," American Airlines worker Ms Miracle said.
"They kept looking at each other in a way that seemed fearful and anxious. I had a gut feeling that something just wasn't right."
What she did next could have saved the girls from a tragic outcome such as a life in captivity.
After refusing to let them board the plane, Ms Miracle made a phone call to the local police and explained the situation.
Deputy Todd Sanderson arrived and talked to the girls who informed him they had just called a man named "Drey," whom they had met on Instagram previously.
He had offered them $US2000 ($2530) to fly to New York for the weekend where he told them they would model and feature in music videos.
The girls, who hadn't told their parents about their upcoming trips, were shocked to find out their tickets were one way and not return.
"When I told them that they didn't have a flight home, that's when it kind of sunk in that maybe I was actually telling the truth," Sanderson said.
"In my opinion, what was going to happen was they were going to go back to New York and become victims of sex trafficking. They said they wouldn't have let that happen, and I said they probably wouldn't have had a choice."
He praised Ms Miracle for her quick-thinking.
"I fully believe she probably prevented these girls from becoming victims."
Drey's Instagram account was quickly deleted and their calls to him went unanswered.
The girls were reunited with their parents. It's unlikely the man will be prosecuted over the incident.