India rescues citizens caught in Cambodia scams

3 weeks ago 23

Phishing scam, mobile phone hacker, or cyber scam concept. Password and login passcode in the smartphone. Online security threat and fraud. a scammer with cell phone and laptop. Bank account security.Image source, Getty Images

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Hundreds of thousands of people have fallen prey to job scams in South East Asia

By Cherylann Mollan

BBC News, Mumbai

The Indian government has said that it has rescued 250 citizens in Cambodia who were forced to run online scams.

Seventy-five people were rescued in the past three months while the timeline for the rest isn't clear.

They were promised jobs but "forced to undertake illegal cyber work", a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Recent reports have said more than 5,000 Indians stuck in Cambodia were forced to operate cyber-fraud schemes.

Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are estimated to have fallen prey to human traffickers running job scams in South East Asia.

A UN report said in August 2023 that at least 120,000 people in Myanmar, and another 100,000 in Cambodia, were forced into operating cyber-fraud schemes.

Over the weekend, Randhir Jaiswal, spokesperson of India's foreign ministry, said that the country was working closely with Cambodian authorities to "crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes".

The BBC has emailed the Cambodian embassy in India for comment.

Last week, the Indian Express newspaper reported that India's embassy in Phnom Penh had received 130 complaints of Indians being held in Cambodia against their will.

They were among thousands of others who were allegedly forced to scam people in India or in some cases, extort money from them by pretending to be law enforcement officials.

The victims in India had been duped of a total of at least 5bn rupees ($59m; £47m) in the past six months, the newspaper reported.

In another report, the paper quoted an official in India's embassy in Cambodia as saying that they received four-five complaints every day on average from people trapped in Cambodia after being offered jobs.

One of the rescued men, identified only as Stephen, told the newspaper that he was recruited by an agent from the southern Indian city of Mangaluru and offered a data entry job in Cambodia.

After reaching the country, he says he was asked to create fake social media accounts with photographs of women and use them to contact people.

The BBC has reported that human traffickers running such job scams have tricked thousands of people into travelling to Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, where they are then forced to work in online scam centres known as "fraud factories". Some victims said they were beaten and tortured.

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