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Article

21 Sep 2022

Author:
BBC News

Cambodia: Victims from South East Asia become victims of job scams and forced labour in Cambodia; scammers target young high-skilled job seekers with fake high pay promises

"Cambodia scams: Lured and trapped into slavery in South East Asia", 21 September 2022

.. When Yang Weibin saw the ad for a telesales role in Cambodia, he immediately said yes. The 35-year-old Taiwanese wasn't making much as a masseur, and he needed to support his parents after his dad suffered a stroke.

Weeks later, Weibin hopped on a plane to Phnom Penh. When he reached the Cambodian capital, he was met by several men who drove him to a nondescript building on a deserted road - not quite the luxury hotel shown in pictures sent by the recruitment agent…

Weibin is among thousands of workers who in recent months have fallen prey to human traffickers running job scams in South East Asia. Governments across a vast swathe of Asia - including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan - have sounded the alarm.

Lured by ads promising easy work and extravagant perks, many are tricked into travelling to Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Once they arrive, they are held prisoner and forced to work in online scam centres known as "fraud factories".

… The victims are told to pay off "debts" they owe to the scam centres if they want to leave - essentially a hefty ransom - or risk being sold to another scam centre. In Chi Tin's case, his family managed to scrape together $2,600 (£1,600) to buy his freedom…

…, Thai authorities arrested She Zhijiang, a Chinese businessman with investments across South East Asia, including a billion-dollar casino and tourism complex in Myanmar called Shwe Kokko…

Timeline