Matt Friedman is a man on a mission. His goal in life is to reduce human suffering caused by trafficking. For 30 years he has fought modern slavery. He travels the world on planes, endlessly speaking, educating and persuading others to do the same. He gave 150 presentations in the last year alone.
I met Matt 2 weeks ago. He told me his story. I didn’t think as a fraud practitioner there was anything I could do to stop human suffering due to slavery and trafficking. I just try to prevent fraud. How does human trafficking have anything to do with me? My job is so very different. I don’t do that work. That is for someone else right?
Matt Changed My Mind, But It Was Not Enough
After hearing his story (and it was brutal), Matt changed my mind. Discovering for example that there are 45.8 million people in slavery at this current moment was unfathomable to me.
I told him I saw how I could help in a small way. He turned to me and said, “Thank You! But that’s not enough. Please go out and convince others.”
I guess in my own small way, I can do that. I can write this story and convince others to care a bit more, to find ways to help.
So this story is about 7 things you can do as a fraud practitioner, as a fraud investigator, a fraud analyst or a fraud manager to stop human suffering due to trafficking. Do you have 12 minutes to spare?
If so, please read on.
#1 – First – Listen To This Story – Where Were You?
The first step is to listen to this heartbreaking story of Gita. Raped over 7,000 times by her captors, she turned the tables on Matt one day and it is a lesson for us all. Can you watch this video without being touched or inspired? I could not.
#2 – Now, Understand How Financial Services is Impacted by Human Trafficking
The story of how you can help comes into clearer focus when you watch this video that explains how traffickers use the financial system to hide or facilitate their heinous crimes.
#3 – Evaluate Your Organization and Risk Factors
Every company is impacted differently. Evaluate your company and see where you have the most exposure to traffickers. When you find those areas and products that have the highest risk, consider developing a plan to identify and stop traffickers from using your organization to facilitate their evil deeds.
Here are some areas to look.
Prepaid Cards – 40 billion dollars in illegal proceeds from Money Laundering, Drug Trafficking and other activities are loaded onto prepaid cards. If you are prepaid card company, investigate your exposure here.
Gift Cards – Pimps use retail gift cards to pay for advertisements on Backpage and other sites where prostitutes and enslaved girls are advertised. If you process gift cards, are you at risk?
Credit Cards – Stolen Credit Cards are used to transport trafficked girls from one country to the next. Coordinated raids in a recent police arrest, for example, found a human trafficking ring that made 495 bookings on flights between Germany and Russia using stolen credit cards. Do you look for links between your unusual card transactions and trafficking?
Bank Accounts – Bank accounts are used to launder illicit funds through money mules but are often where human trafficking can be identified. Looking for frequent P2P payments between hundreds of individuals or many transactions to suspicious advertising websites is a key alert to a human trafficker. Do you look for this?
Loans – The greatest cause of human trafficking today is Debt. People that are trafficked often owe money to someone and are forced to repay that debt. Do you look for signs in trafficking on your payday or small loans?
#4 – Reach out To Your AML Team – Join Forces to Stamp Out Trafficking
Fraud teams and AML Teams need to work together to identify and stop human trafficking. Most human trafficking indicators will span the spectrum from fraud to anti-money laundering. Establishing a task force between those two groups within your organization is critical.
Setup a meeting. Join forces. Bring AML and Fraud together to end human suffering caused by human trafficking and slavery.
#5 – Put Some Red Flag Rules Into Your Queues
Here are a collection of red flags I found during research from Flashpoint. Create a couple of queues to start. See if you can identify any human trafficking. Even the identification of 1 case could make a difference.
#6 – Change The Culture of Fraud and AML to Help Somebody
You’re in fraud management. You probably got into this profession because you want to help people. You would do your work for free because you love it so much.
But banks, lenders, and finance companies are not in the business of doing things for free. But to take a dent out of human trafficking requires a new mindset.
Maybe we need to do some new queues, write some new alerts, just because it’s the right thing to do. Maybe we need to do our part because of the greater social good.
Can you do it? Can you in a small way, change your organization to focus on this problem even though the financial incentive might be cloudy?
Do it if you can.
#7 – Tell Someone Else The Story
Now. Do you believe what you have read here? Do you understand why it’s important? Are their practical things you can see yourself doing?
If so, let me just tell you one more thing. It’s exactly what Matt said to me. “Thank You! But that’s not enough. Please go out and convince others.”.
Thank you so much for reading! Thank you Ian Mitchell for introducing me to Matt Friedman.