Scammers reportedly trafficking people to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand -

Scammers reportedly trafficking people to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand

  • Published on
    September 21, 2022
  • Written by:
    Miriam Karmali
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking
Hero Banner

According to the BBC, thousands of people across South East Asia have been trafficked to Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand where they are forced to work in online scam centers known as “fraud factories”. 

“I knew then I had come to the wrong place”

Victims report accepting attractive work offers abroad but having their passports taken on arrival and forced into crypto fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. 

Yang Weibin decided to travel from Taiwan to Cambodia after he saw a job advertisement for a telesales role that would help him support his family. He was met at the airport by a group of men who took him to a bare house and told him he was not allowed to leave. Weibin said, “I knew then I had come to the wrong place, that this was a very dangerous situation”.

He spent 58 days in captivity before managing to escape from the compound where he was being held and returning to Taiwan with support from anti-scam activists.

Threatened with violence

Many other young people like Weibin have similar experiences and endured torture and abuse from their captors. Chi Tin who was trafficked from Vietnam explained his ordeal: “I was forced to make 15 friends every day and entice them to join online gambling and lottery websites… of these, I had to convince five people to deposit money into their gaming accounts. […] The manager told me to work obediently, not to try to escape or resist or I will be taken to the torture room… Many others told me if they did not meet the target, they would be starved and beaten.”

The BBC reports:

In the meantime many countries have launched public education campaigns to raise awareness of the scams.

Some have introduced screening for people leaving for South East Asian destinations, for example by stationing police at airports to ask people about their reasons for travel. Last month, Indonesian officials stopped multiple private flights chartered to ferry hundreds of workers to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville.

Groups of volunteers helping victims escape and return home, such as Gaso, have also sprung up in several countries. Some of these volunteers are former victims themselves – like Weibin.

Greater support for victims is needed

However, authorities’ efforts to prevent people from travelling and seeking work is not a solution to trafficking and exploitation. The economic necessity to find work remains, and making it harder for people to travel will only force people to take more dangerous routes abroad. 

Peppi Kiviniemi-Siddiq, a specialist in Asia-Pacific migrant protection with the UN’s International Organization for Migration said “some of these governments need to update their trafficking laws, have necessary support systems for individuals”.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Four years on, has Australia's Modern Slavery Act been effective?

An independent review of Australia's Modern Slavery Act has concluded that the legislation is failing to have a significant impact on curbing modern slavery and urges the Australian government to implement recommendations to strengthen the law. The Australian government must act According to the latest Global Slavery Index released by international human rights organization Walk Free, an estimated 50 million people were in situations of modern slavery

| Wednesday May 31, 2023

Read more