The Strategist

Payment transaction analysis can help identify criminals

03/20/2017 - 14:22

According to latest report of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) "Disrupting Human Trafficking: The Role of Financial Institutions", banks could possible use special algorithms to find out criminals among their clients. For this purpose, the institutions need to crosscheck payments made in restaurants, shops, pharmacies and air ticket offices.

Smeraglia Productions via vimeo
Smeraglia Productions via vimeo
The RUSI’s report states that it is possible to recognize transactions related to human trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation.

RUSI is a British non-governmental analytical center for defense and security, founded in 1831. The current president of the Institute is the Duke of Kent Edward.

For example, regular small purchases in pharmacies, ranging from £ 10 to £ 20 ($ 12-15), may indicate a massive purchase of condoms and coercion to prostitution. Suspicious are almost simultaneously made payments in adjacent expensive restaurants and cheap cafes. It is assumed that a woman forced into prostitution buys food and drinks in an expensive restaurant while waiting for client, and the criminal controls her from a cheap cafe nearby.

Another suspicious sign is repeated purchases of tickets for flights of cheap airlines, mainly from Eastern Europe. It looks especially dubious if then the customer does not make any transactions in these countries.

Banks also pay attention to repeated purchases on sites with sexual content. This may indicate placement of advertisements for prostitutes.

The RUSI proclaims suspicious large shopping in grocery stores and rental of a large number of DVDs. According to the report, these are "proven evidence of activities of traffickers who are trying to occupy forcibly detained people when they do not work."

Every year, 20.9 million people worldwide become victims of trafficking. This market is estimated at $ 46.9 billion. According to the British Ministry of the Interior, there are about 13,000 victims of human trafficking in the country.

As reported in the report, banks have been analyzing such information since 2011. According to RUSI, one of the credit organizations sent about 80 reports on possible cases of human trafficking based on the analysis of transactions. The number of detected cases of human trafficking has significantly increased in recent years, from less than 1,000 in 2011 to 3,3 thousand. The RUSI’s research tells nothing about specific cases when such report could help reveal a crime.