Coalition member discusses fraud, human trafficking


During a meeting of the Highland County Prevention and Recovery Coalition member and Merchants National Bank employee Jeff Meyer spoke Wednesday about fraud and human trafficking.

“The banking industry across the United States has seen an increase in fraud by 200 percent over 2023 to 2024,” said Meyer. “Banks are getting hit really bad, but it’s not just the banks, it’s the customers that we care about that are getting hit really bad.”

He said there has been an increase of checks being stolen from the mail and the name of who the check is written out to being changed. “It’s one of the oldest scams in the book,” he said. “Sometimes they change the amount, but most of the time they don’t.”

Meyer advised potential victims of this scam to look at the check in their online bank account to see who the check was written out to. “We’ve been educating our customers for the past six months, both businesses and personal, on doing that because that’s the number one way that you can stop that from going through,” he said.

He said businesses have three days to notify the bank, and fraud on a personal account needs to be reported to the bank within 30 days. “If a business notifies us in three days, we’ll get that money back,” said Meyer. “After that, we don’t see the money, so either the business takes a loss or the bank takes a loss.”

Meyer said debit card fraud has decreased because of chip technology, but is still a problem. “We do say if you’re shopping online or out of the normal Hillsboro area or wherever you live, you might want to use a credit card instead of a debit card because if your credit card gets hacked you’re not stuck waiting three days for the bank to give you $400 back that somebody took out from your debit card when they got your number,” he said.

He warned consumers to watch out for skimmers attached to ATMs. “You can wiggle your card when you put it in the machine, and if there’s a skimmer it will pop right off, and then you can notify the store or gas station or whoever,” he said. “Sometimes it will have a wire connected, so that’s stopping crime from happening if you discover that.”

Meyer said human trafficking is a problem around the world and in the United States, and he described the six types of human trafficking.

He said child soldiers are the first type of human trafficking. “The United Nations has identified 14 countries where children have been widely used as soldiers,” he said. “They train them from as young as 3 or 4 years old, and even my brother in Iraq said he saw child soldiers as young as 3 or 4 carrying bombs in Pepsi cans.”

Child marriages are another type of human trafficking Meyer spoke about. “This is interesting because it wasn’t until May 9 of 2018 when the first state in the United States decided to ban child marriages, and that was the state of Delaware,” he said. “Twenty-seven states have followed, and Ohio is one of them where you have to be 17 or older.”

Forced labor is another type of human trafficking. “Homeland Security says forced labor occurs when individuals are compelled to provide work or service through the use of force, fraud or coercion. He said this is a common problem in India.

He described debt bondage as a type of human trafficking that involves a victim willingly entering into a particular job in order to pay off a debt, but the victim is never allowed to pay off the debt.

He said organ trafficking is among the categories of human trafficking. He said kidneys are the number one organ that is trafficked and that it is estimated that one kidney was illegally transferred every hour every day in 2023.

Meyer said human sex trafficking is the most widely known form of human trafficking, and that Ohio is fifth in the country for the most human sex trafficking with Toledo being a hub for the problem. He mentioned,, and Destiny Rescue as resources to help fight the problem.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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