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Fighting Human Trafficking by Following the Money

If you travel a lot – especially during January 2020, which was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month – you likely saw ads exhorting you to look out for evidence of human trafficking and report what you see to the authorities.

Ads like these are great for raising general awareness of the very real problem of human trafficking. There is also a particular need to teach financial and hospitality professionals what to look out for when reviewing financial transactions or encountering trafficked victims in their establishments.

In order to fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery, we need to combine the vigilance of families, caregivers, and the general public with all the tools of technology and investigation at our disposal. That is why CipherTrace has partnered with the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII).

An important piece of ATII’s approach is “follow money, fight slavery”—and that money increasingly includes cryptocurrency. Forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. As CipherTrace is capable of tracing more than 880 cryptocurrency tokens via its user interface, and that number keeps growing, our partnership with ATII can help prevent traffickers from hiding behind cryptocurrency transactions. CipherTrace is proud to be a company that takes a stand in the fight for human dignity.


What Are the Risk Indicators of Human Trafficking?


To increase awareness of the risk indicators of human trafficking, ATII recommends financial institutions keep an eye out for the following red flags:

  • Little to no living expense transactions;
  • Account is credited through cash deposits, account transfers or email transfers;
  • Deposits are quickly followed by significant transfers to a different account or withdrawn;
  • Cash deposits made in different cities throughout the city, state, region or country;
  • Paychecks from multiple people deposited into a single account.


ATII also recommends banking and hospitality professionals look for the following:

  • When the person is alone, do they make eye contact? Do they speak at a conversational volume?
  • Do they appear disoriented? Are they tentative in their actions? Is hygiene lacking?
  • Do they look to the door or another person at a seemingly abnormal frequency?
  • If the line is long, or a manager is called over to assist, does the person become agitated? Fearful? Do they abandon their items and head for the door?
  • Are they showing signs of physical abuse? Visible bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Are they wearing sunglasses indoors?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is there another person with them? Is that person overly attentive? Do they appear to be minding every word said? Are they a translator, or do they speak for the person?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say, or look to someone else before speaking?
  • When you are at a place of business, are there indicators that someone lives there?
  • When observing life around you, is a juvenile acting/dressed in an overly sexualized manner, potentially engaged in commercial sex acts? Is he/she in the company of older men/women who do not appear to be related to them?
  • If you conduct business in the homes of clients, is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom to come and go as they please? Are there unreasonable security measures? Do doors lock from the inside, or the outside?



What to Do If You Suspect Human Trafficking


If you suspect human trafficking, ATII does not recommend confronting the trafficker directly—they will be desperate to protect their “investment,” and likely dangerous—but rather to make careful observations, write down everything you see, and report it. If you observe human trafficking red flags at a business, alert the manager. If noted in a public area or transportation hub, alert the authorities. If you observe this while on the job, report it to your employer and, if at a financial institution, ensure timely and accurate reporting via a Suspicious Activity (Transaction) Report. In addition to following any protocols necessary, call the 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (888-37-37-888) or via SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”).


Read more about our partnership with ATII:

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