This week, Executive Vice President John Byrne, and Creative Director Elliot Berman of the AML RightSource staff talk about January being National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. They explore how the AML community is working to identify human trafficking and provide law enforcement with actionable information to support efforts, along with many other organizations, to interdict and end human trafficking.


Let's Keep Working to Stop Human Trafficking Transcript

Elliot Berman: Hi, John, how are you this week?

John Byrne: Good Elliot. How are you doing today?

Elliot Berman: I'm okay. So I thought it would be good for us to talk about the fact that January is national slavery and human trafficking prevention month. The FBI is certainly, along with many others, working really hard to get the word out. More eyes are better, and I know you've been involved in working to help some of the human trafficking anti-human trafficking organizations get some visibility. I just want to chat about that for a few minutes.

John Byrne: Yeah - the FBI, Homeland Security, and a number of other agencies, like you mentioned, obviously have been active - and at the state level, which is great.

The thing that drove our community to make this a more proactive space where bankers really, and we have talked about this before at the local, very local levels of their institutions, is pushing from the bottom up, if you will, and saying to senior management, "hey, there's things we can be doing here and over the course of time".

I was fortunate when I was at ACAMS to work with a number of banks. We had really smart people that were doing analysis, connecting with really smart people in the government, and as we've talked about before, they've come up with a series of typologies and red flag indicators and all of that. Sadly, we have to make this month something - it's not a commemoration of course - to remind us how important this partnership is. One of the other groups that we've worked with and there are more than one, obviously, is Polaris. They've done a number of things in the financial space, in addition to everything else they cover.

So just the amount of people that are working on this issue because they have to is really important. But I think this is like you say - a good time to remind people to do what you can in this space to deal with these horrific acts against humanity.

Elliot Berman: Yeah, rather than, a call to action in a traditional sense, I think this is a call to renew or continue to action. And for those of our listeners who also tuned into our December webinar, they heard a lot about typologies and how to detect these kinds of this kind of activity. But I think anything that we, as an AML community can be doing to keep our eyes and ears open and inform others, educate customers, make sure our frontline folks are watching for signs of people who are being coerced and in a number of ways, possibly, even in the lobbies of the organization of the banks or other institutions, I think is really important.

I'd also I'd ask our listeners, if your organization, or you personally, are active on social media? This is a great cause to put out to your circle of readers and watchers so that we can get the word out even more widely because if we can get all those circles to increase their awareness, we can over time make a difference.

John Byrne: Right. And as you mentioned, we've done programming on this, and I know that Polaris has referenced the work that FinCEN has done in providing advisories in this area, so that's been pretty important to recognize. And one of the things that I remember our colleague, Sara Crowe mentioning when we interviewed her, is that during the pandemic there's actually a spike in these activities for a whole host of reasons.

So even more important, it's always an issue, but even more important to recognize that when other pressures occur, unfortunately, there are more and more victims. And the financial sector could do so much. So, you're right. Jump on social media, make people aware of these things, and as we pick up new insights, offer them to one another so that we can file those reports and we can do our best to report investigative information, but hopefully detect and prevent these activities.

Elliot Berman: Absolutely. And you and I will continue to talk about this and to write and about it and to find valuable sources to interview.

People should continue to look to AML RightSource as one of many sources for useful information.

John Byrne: Yeah, I know we're done we're out of time, but just a quick thing as we are recording this - the house has voted to impeach President Trump a second time on a bipartisan vote. Obviously, now it goes to the Senate. This is a historic time and referencing that, I'm going to sit down and do a podcast with our colleague, Dennis Lormel sometime next week. We will talk about the recent activities that precipitated the reason for the impeachment in terms of domestic terrorism and what we can be doing as part of the community that deals with the financial footprint.

So just to mention that as something to be looking forward to, we'll get to those issues in the next couple of weeks. But once again, go to the Polaris website, we have a lot of good things on our website on anti-trafficking, the UN has done some great work, and there's a lot of good information out there.

And so do what you can in your communities, and elsewhere.

Elliot Berman: Sounds great. I will talk to you next week, John.

John Byrne: All right. Take care of yourself. Be safe.

Elliot Berman: You too. Bye bye.