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13 Sep 2022

Enno Hinz, NewsClick (India)

Cambodia: 15 Thais arrested for cyber fraud as police step up fight against trafficking syndicates

"Cambodia: Human Trafficking Crisis Driven by Cyber Scams" 13 September 2022

Recent escapes and rescues of foreigners working for criminal syndicates in Cambodia's casinos and other businesses have exposed an extreme problem with human trafficking in the Southeast Asian country. Many of the victims were lured by online scams. 

Last week, Cambodian police arrested 15 Thais wanted for cyber fraud and working illegally from a compound in Sihanoukville following a request from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

The arrests came as Cambodia and police forces from different countries in the region step up their efforts to rescue their citizens and shut down trafficking syndicates.

UN Special Rapporteur Viti Muntarbhorn who concluded an 11-day mission to the country in late August said that human trafficking victims were experiencing a "living hell," in which many were tortured or even killed.

"Countries are now waking up to the phenomenon and Cambodia needs to activate countermeasures more strongly, while welcoming international cooperation and support," he added.

Online scams as driver of human trafficking

Over the years, Cambodia has transformed from being a source to a major destination for human trafficking in Southeast Asia, with online scams behind many cases.

The traffickers, many connected to organized criminal gangs, are targeting foreign nationals via different social media apps, offering well-paid work and accommodation. [...]

Part of the following timelines

Cambodia: Rights groups express concern over human trafficking as scam operations grow

Southeast Asia: Workers are lured into slavery in online scam centres; victims say they were beaten, electrocuted, & sold to other 'fraud factories'