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10 Okt 2022

The Guardian

Cambodia: Victims from Southeast Asian countries are forced to work as scammers in Cambodia; victims work long hours without pays and freedom of movement

"Sold to gangs, forced to run online scams: inside Cambodia’s cybercrime crisis", 10 October 2022

When the advert popped up on Ly Thi Lan’s* Facebook feed, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. An employer in Cambodia was looking for new staff, the only requirement was computer skills, and the salary was generous, especially compared with her factory job in her home country, Vietnam. She would be able to save money, and pay for health treatment she needed. Her husband decided to go as well. “I just wanted to go there to have a better job, earn money to pay for a better life,” she says…

Lan is just one of thousands of estimated victims who have been trapped in such work in Cambodia, where scam operations proliferated during the pandemic. The issue became so acute that, in August, the US downgraded Cambodia to the worst level possible in its Trafficking In Persons annual report…

Cambodia has over recent weeks begun cracking down on such establishments, raiding more than 10 condos and hotels in the capital, Phnom Penh, that were allegedly running illegal online activities, …, which has covered the issue. It also reported that almost 1,500 foreign nationals were released during three recent raids in Sihanoukville…

… Lan would work between 14 and 16 hours a day, with only short toilet breaks allowed. Anyone who spent more than 10 minutes in the bathroom was told their pay would be docked. Lunch and dinner were brought to the table where staff worked.

She had been promised a salary of US$800-900. The first month she received only $200; by the second and third month she received nothing…