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Cryptocurrency scammers victims of cyber-slavery

  • Published on
    October 2, 2023
  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Human Trafficking
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KHMER Times reports that at the end of September, approximately 27 Filipino nationals were rescued from a cryptocurrency scam, a form of cyber slavery, in Cambodia. The scam was masterminded by three Chinese and one Malaysian and is part of a growing human trafficking issue connected to online scamming broadly, or pig butchering.  

Pig butchering and cyber-slavery on the rise 

Chinese gangsters based in Cambodia or Myanmar are often key players in part of a growing modern slavery challenge, cyber slavery. Young people from across Southeast Asia are being lured in increasing numbers by the promise of a well-paying job to go abroad. But once they arrive to start their new job, they are held captive and forced into online spamming activities, as with the recent Filipino victims.  

While officials in Cambodia have been working hard to crackdown on this type of crime, there is still a lot to be done. As in this case, the crime often includes citizens of multiple countries. 

Chou Bun Eng, Permanent Vice-Chairwoman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking in persons (NCCT) said: 

“This kind of crime is not only happening in Cambodia but in neighboring countries, as well.  This requires cooperation with our neighbors to effectively tackle this crime,” said Bun Eng. 

Thousands have been tricked in the same way the 27 Filipino victims were. According to Bloomberg, entire office complexes in remote locations have been discovered, filled with floor after floor of cyber-slavery victims working 24 hours a day. These victims are forced under threat of torture or death to send spam messages to unsuspecting victims in wealthy countries. 

Rapid technological advances outpace laws and law enforcement 

The fast pace of technological advances has left law enforcement scrambling to catch up and find ways to legislate, enforce and investigate this emerging transnational crime. Many of the pig-butchering sites uncovered have been in Cambodia, leading rights groups there to call for the government to expand its strategy to crackdown on all kind of human trafficking.  

Victims in a recent article in Bloomberg stated: 

“they’d seen workers murdered, with the deaths passed off as suicides. They said the bosses would buy and sell captive laborers like livestock.”  

Reports from survivors continue to emerge as more of these operations are exposed. Many relay instances of being beaten, starved, or made to hit one another, working up to 18 hours a day, being forcibly injected with methamphetamine to increase productivity, and subject to physical abuse and torture if they failed to scam people. 

As international alarm grows, law enforcement agencies in Cambodia and across Southeast Asia have begun to step up their coordination to tackle this problem. Six Cambodian women who escaped their workplace in Laos were able to contact the Cambodian Embassy. Working in partnership with Laotian police, the women were then rescued and moved to a safe place.  

Freedom United calls on governments everywhere to increase international cooperation between law enforcement, strengthen anti-trafficking legal frameworks, and increase public awareness of cyber slavery and all forms of modern slavery, wherever they take place. 


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Lesley Ella
Lesley Ella
7 months ago

Thank you to your organisation for trying to help the oppressed, poor and voiceless people of the world. Regarding the unfortunate workers caught up in the cryptocurrency scam, many found the job advertised on Facebook which doesn’t seem to be accountable for anything.

1 month ago

Being a scam victim can be depressing. you were given empty promises. they usually replying after achieving their aim which hurts even more. i have been there too as i was too ambitious and wanted financial security which made me invest a huge chunk of my life’s savings. i never thought i would be getting back and already lost hope until i found a team and contacted them which was a leap of faith as i wasn’t going to go down without a fight . Henry Walter , a recovery expert that helped me get a

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