Global Fraud Focus

Migration crisis gives fraudsters, traffickers opportunities

The ongoing migration of refugees from areas dominated by ISIS into Europe is the largest mass movement of people since World War II, according to a European Union official. United Nations figures show that 50 million people have been driven from their homes by violence in the Middle East and Africa, with Syria the hardest hit. (See Europe 'faces worst refugee crisis since Second World War', by Matthew Holehouse, The Telegraph, August 14.)

With this mass exodus, of course, comes the usual fraud: human trafficking, money laundering and exploitation. Because the crisis is still developing, I haven't been able to find any hard information on money tracing from refugees to smugglers to money launderers and then into economic systems.

However, as CFEs, we should have an interest in how we can lend our talents and skills. For example, we can't just stand by and not encourage law enforcement agencies to investigate and introduce tighter controls on the facilitators of people smuggling.

Also, the refugees have little or no money by the time they reach Europe because they've paid it to traffickers who undoubtedly are laundering it into financial systems. As CFEs, we must actively identify any possible money links to organized crime or people smugglers.

At press time, more than 3,000 migrants were crossing the Greek–Macedonian border every day, carrying their worldly possessions with them. (See UN reveals 3,000 migrants are crossing the Greek-Macedonian border EACH DAY … by Corey Charlton, Daily Mail, August 25.)

More than 23,000 refugees have drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea from war-torn countries trying to reach Europe. In their desperate plight to escape their countries and make it to Europe, immigrants are paying between £2,000 and £3,000 to human traffickers to board unseaworthy boats for the perilous crossing. (See The MASS CEMETERY of Europe … by Owen Bennett, Express, April 2.)

Thousands have used tiny rubber dinghies not designed for offshore use to reach the tiny Greek Island of Kos while many die trying to make the journey. Forty suffocated as they were locked in the hold of a trafficker's boat. (See " Thousands of desperate immigrants queue …" by Tom Wyke, Daily Mail, August 16.) Greece sent a car ferry to Kos to transport some 2,500 Syrian refugees to Athens.

In early September, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, said the migration crisis was a "German problem," and Europe had a moral duty to tell migrants to stay away. (See The New York Times article, Hungary Defends Handling of Migrants Amid Chaos at Train Station, by Anemona Hartocollis, Dan Bilefsky and James Kanter, Sept. 2.)

Hungary was building a 110-mile, razor-wire fence along the border with non-EU Serbia, and is passing laws which will make illegally crossing into the country punishable by a prison sentence. (See Hungary races to build border fence as migrants keep coming, by Nick Thorpe, BBC News, August 6.)


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