CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- Students at Cheektowaga Central High School got a powerful lesson Thursday about the dangers of social media and its connection to human trafficking.

"I thought I was safe online. I thought I was in control," said Mandie Palmer. "I thought I could trust people.

"I thought wrong."

Over time, “Ryan” began earning Mandie's trust. Experts said online predators call it grooming.

"He seemed fun and outgoing from his very first message so we started talking," said Palmer, who is now 21.

Before long, Mandie said she ran off with Ryan and found herself caught up in a violent world of prostitution.

"I was a toy that could be rented for an hour for $200. Over the course of about a year and a half, I was raped hundreds of times often several times a day. I was occasionally beaten and I was drugged," said Palmer.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said sadly, Mandie’s story is not unusual, and that human trafficking, or exploiting people though forced labor or prostitution, is one of the biggest problems facing his office.

"We've handled cases involving 18 different men and women. Twenty-six victims just like you," Hochul said. "It's because of this technology that you're particularly vulnerable."

Eventually, Mandie's pimp “Ryan” was arrested and she escaped the dark world she was pulled into. Mandie said she wanted to share her story to try and prevent what happened to her from happening to another teen.

"Remember, human trafficking is a real a prevalent danger. If it could happen to me, it could happen to you," said Palmer.

Hochul cautions teens about sharing too much information online, especially with strangers, to trust their gut feeling, and to not be afraid to tell a parent, teacher, or police officer.