How can banks be used to stop human trafficking?

Human trafficking is devastating for the victims but low-risk for the criminals, whose activities are largely hidden from view. To disrupt it, law enforcement is turning to some unlikely new partners—banks.

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German police raid homes across the country as part of a move to take down an international human trafficking network. It’s the fastest growing crime in the world but sights like this are rare. This is 21st century crime – hard to track, low risk and high reward for the criminal gangs behind it.

Today’s biggest criminals could be trafficking humans, drugs or weapons. The authorities charged with stopping them have found some unlikely new partners – banks.

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Comment (84)

  1. Well done economist for such brilliance reporting. It is one of the most complicated cartel based businesses which actually a menace and black spot on human dignity.

  2. Incredible job done by the Economist. One of those stories that I watched all the way through without stopping. Just a quick comment, human trafficking is so rampant in Canada because so much of the population is segregated to rural communities. The worst population affected is First Nations communities, where they tend to live in poverty, away from the main cities, and are therefore vulnerable. RCMP has a difficult enough time investigating leads throughout all rural communities in Canada, let alone able to investigate instances of human trafficking rings. It's a contribution made up of poverty (prostitution), excluded communities (reserves), and stretched out resources (RCMP) necessary to tackle the problem effectively.

  3. I wonder how the banks profit from this. If they were brought to justice, this would not happen. We jail people for stealing, but when banks fail us, we do very little (ie Dirty Money by Netflix on HSBC).

  4. this video should be called the hand book of a trafficker, how not to get caught.
    Btw this is called "love jihad" in India and transaction is in cash or person is the price. they get Send to Syria or Afghan or middle east.

  5. QuantaVerse was pleased to participate and appear in this very insightful documentary from The Economist! Wonderful job by the producers in capturing the crucial roles of NGOs, banks and new technologies in the fight against global financial crime. For more information on QuantaVerse and our AI-powered financial crime platform, please visit:

  6. Keep in mind; this isn't a matter of evil people doing evil thing, this is a matter of systemic corruption. And you know your governments; They are funding the war criminals, they are funding the terrorists, they are paying the arms dealers and they are doing it using the banking system that they are supposedly doing oversight on.

    There will always be criminal activity, that is part of society. Changing how money works and making every citizens transactions publicly visible only ends up punishing the innocent.

    If the government can watch everything you do, their power to control your behavior becomes enormous. And it will put people at the mercy of a system, in which at a flick of a binary switch you can become a non-person.

    Went to the wrong website, went to the wrong protest, associated with the wrong political party, expressed support for the wrong idea. You no longer exist. That is scenario A.

    Scenario B is a world in which we have a fully connected economy, using a form of currency that is neutral, transparent, global and open, belonging to everyone, requiring no qualification to enter or exit the system and not under control of any bank or government; That is what Bitcoin offers.

  7. 13:28 so hsbc paid $1.9 billion for laundering $881m. Even if they got a 10% marge that would be a hefty fine. Yet the next comment is how this is only "5 weeks worth of the banks global profits", which is completely misleading since most of the bank had nothing to do with this and it's a huge corporation. Actually compared to most punishments for regular people, that is extraordinarily hard fining.

  8. In the UK, Europe and America banks have come under ever greater pressure from regulators
    to root out the dirty money in their systems,,,,,,,, seriously 🤔

  9. What about the trafficking surrounding DC. The rates of child abduction are extremely high in Virginia, and there is evidence that criminal sexual activity of the highest rungs of power is being systematically covered up. But, oh, that's a conspiracy theory.

    Check out the cryptic but explicit language in the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks, known as "pizzagate." This led to the murder of Seth Rich (the leaker) and the abduction/arrest of Julian Assange on Oct 16 2016.

  10. Thanks The Economist and your staff for doing and posting this article . It is an excellent article . Thanks Quanta Verse for using AI and Computer programs to make the world a safe , better and more free from criminals .

  11. Pffft. Do I look like a fucking IDIOT TO YOU??…. Fuck the economist. Fuck Canada. Fuck the Canadian government. Fuck these dumb bitches. Fuck the traffickers. And fuck your idiotic fear-mongering when these girls not only enjoy their entourage but fucking seek it on their own even legally. You're not making me feel sorry for anybody. Also FUCK your bankers.

  12. What are the privacy rules on this? Does the bank have any legal obligation/hurdle to clear before sharing it? Or can they share any data they want to with law enforcement that they deem suspicious?

    Essentially, what I'm asking is, does the bank own the data of your history of banking with them, so therefore they don't need to notify/ask permission from a trafficker? How do the laws on this vary by country?

  13. The elephant you missed in suggesting relying on banks is that the society can already feel very entrapping in limited contacts and opportunities – that moralists and governments might better address long-term.

  14. human trafficking is the main business of banks, the legal or almost legal kind. So, the question is how can banks stop illegal, profitable human trafficking of other agents ?

  15. Can you collect information on the CIA's drug transactions? Well-informed speculation says the CIA maintains the poppy fields of Afganistan, and are the largest importer of illicit drugs to the USA. They deposit proceeds as Classified transactions. Therefore they can not be audited. Banks are 1 intimidated and 2 greedy so they cooperate fully to facilitate deposits from the CIA. Proceeds then go partially to fund "Black" projects around the world. Any comment on this? By the way, CIA and Black Project employees who participate in illicit operations are well-compensated monetarily. However, by their participation in illicit programs, those employees could be considered Slaves of the CIA.

  16. Great video highlighting (my opinion) the worst crimes humans can participate in. Friendly note to the economist, when speaking about Canada's jurisdictions, we are not states rather we are provinces.

  17. Oportun Inc., is CDFI Certified. MetaBank and Member FDIC issue Oportuns Ventiva prepaid Visa Card. Oportun Inc. fails to acknowledge that the trade of counterfeit goods of all levels is a threat to National Security.

    La Placita Tropicana Shopping Center has been deemed to be a blight on San Jose, a breeding ground for illegal trades moreover the sale of fake immigrant documentation. It has been labeled as "Anti-American" as counterfeit social security numbers and IDs have been allowed to be marketed and sold for years. It has been an "open secret," the trade of fake and counterfeited identities marketed daily outside La Placita Tropicana Shopping Center.

    Oportun Inc. is a Transnational Corporation with Corporate Offices located in Leon Guanajuato & Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico & Operates in 12 U.S States.

    Google Search: Oportun La Placita Tropicana

  18. The film doesn’t make a single mention to ‘bank–client confidentiality’, which by itself prevents any attempt to seriously address this (and many other) issues. Sad.

  19. 24:2025:27 decentralised operation is the key so each cog can deny knowledge of much of the operation even if it the denial isn't credible. Perhaps we have to place a bit of the burden of proof on the other side and expect the owners, operators and managers to show they really didn't know what they claim not to know

  20. I can now see why cryptocurrency will be huge, cut out the middle man: the banks that want to make money like JP Morgan would gladly accept corrupt money

  21. Also the question is who are the clients?? If this industry earns that much money, it's because there's a high demand, as simple as that! So who are the people who pay for it ?? Scary..

  22. What about the cash if paid to victims? In less developed countries, census showed that most of the time with cash money. So, as a bank how can be detected when the transactions in cash? With Regional Coordination among the Central Bank can ease the Money Laundering. Also, putting barrier to send money in form of business to launder money from one country to other. Say for example, to send money from one country to other, customers will give information to Central Bank and Central Bank will give the permission by checking counter Central Bank.

  23. Am cringing just to think that such inhuman animals are existing in this world. Catch them up and execute them in public so no one else repeats their crime.


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