Financial Institutions and U.S. Officials Join Forces in Detecting Human Traffickers

Human Slavery—The Fastest Growing Criminal Enterprise

Human trafficking remains one of the fastest growing illegal enterprises, and is of special importance to the AML/financial crime prevention community who are tasked with the detection and reporting of human trafficking money laundering red flags. As compliance professionals, we are in a unique position to serve as a line of defense against these terrible crimes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made human trafficking and smuggling a priority through their “Blue Campaign”, a collaborative effort between DHS, world governments and non-governmental organizations. In fact, a new initiative is underway by DHS to add human trafficking awareness training as part of basic training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC).

Furthermore, for special guidance to the financial crime prevention community, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a report to financial institutions to help them recognize suspicious activity and detect the financial red flags of human trafficking and smuggling. Read FinCEN’s guidance report for the full details.

In addition to the efforts of both, DHS and FINCEN, the U.S. Department of State also releases their annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). This report places extra emphasis on at-risk countries and regions that have not taken sufficient steps to prevent human trafficking. The report goes further by emphasizing special red flags and typologies associated with individual countries.

Annual profits of forced labour per region (US $ billion)

Graph of forced profits by human trafficking

Source: International Labor Organization, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor (2014), p. 14.)

Watch this video on human trafficking and smuggling from the ACAMS Annual AML & Financial Crime Conference.

On this page, you will find links to articles, outreach programs, red flags, and recorded conference sessions to help aid you in your efforts spot the specific indicators of human trafficking.

Some Potential Red Flags of Human Trafficking and Smuggling:

  • High volume deposits through funnel accounts and immediate withdrawals from border towns
  • Ongoing ATM/credit card transactions in even amounts between 10 PM and 6 AM
  • Credit card payments to online escort services for advertising
  • Sudden activity changes in business accounts outside of the customer’s expected profile
  • Use of anonymous monetary instruments to pay bills instead of personal checks
  • Structured cash deposits at multiple bank branch locations