Of late, more and more instances of Malaysians falling prey to the ‘Southeast Asia job scams‘ are coming to light as a portion of victims make their way home to subsequently share their disturbing encounters while being held captive in other neighbouring countries- particularly Myamar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
One of these deeply regrettable cases was recently reported by Harian Metro, whereby a Muslim woman was forced into performing sexual favours for men and eating pork. It was also stated that the female captives were punished if they failed to comply, and some were even sold to external syndicates as prostitutes.
The victim, who spoke under the alias of Elyn, in her 30s, when narrating her experience to the Secretary General of the Malaysian International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim, said the above instances occurred while she was in Cambodia.
She noted that this took place around four months ago when she was forced to act as a scammer by a syndicate that had initially offered her a “well-paying job at a communications-related company.”
According to her, at the time, she had lost all hope and gave up on ever having a decent future.
In addition to that, some were beaten, electrocuted, and forced to lose weight to ‘keep up their appearances’ as prostitutes. Needless to say, numerous victims also had their organs harvested by syndicates for sale on the black market.
Many lost their lives this way and their bodies were simply dumped with no remorse, leaving family members and loved ones back home desolated and clueless.
Meanwhile, Hishamuddin claimed that he had received many complaints from families asking him to save their children who were allegedly lured and stranded there as well.
“There was a case where a man previously worked with an information technology company in Dubai, but when the company closed down, he was offered a job the same field in Thailand with a better salary.
“However, when he arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, he was locked up and taken to Laos to work as a scammer on behalf of the syndicate,” he said.
He also alleged that the syndicate members would physically harm him, if he did not perform well enough.
“Another victim still cannot be contacted by family members after leaving to Dubai for work. He came from Labuan, Sabah to Dubai to work, but was only able to communicate with his family for a month,” he explained.
According to Hishamuddin, syndicates often look at the victim’s ability to trap others into the same fate. For example, if they are fluent in another language, they will be able to target fraud victims in other countries where the language is spoken,” he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via a statement made on September 21, announced that 301 reports involving job fraud syndicates abroad were received, with victims said to be in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
Of that number, a total of 168 people were successfully rescued and returned to their homeland while 34 people were detained at the immigration detention depot; and the remaining 99 are still being tracked by the national authorities.
The sudden surge in job scams and human trafficking activities in Southeast Asia has gained worldwide attention, with netizens urging swift action from authorities. Some have even discouraged locals from travelling to these neighbouring countries altogether, just to circumvent these unwanted situations.