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Author Topic: Scam compounds & stories (and victims)  (Read 3706 times)

Offline ainat

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Scam compounds & stories (and victims)
« on: September 02, 2022, 02:33:40 PM »
« Last Edit: April 23, 2023, 12:35:47 PM by ainat »

Offline ainat

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Re: Scam compounds & story
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2022, 03:00:43 PM »
S'poreans who rescue cyber slavery victims offer glimpse of life inside scam compounds in Southeast Asia
Tricking people into working as scammers by luring them over with false job advertisements has become a major criminal industry in Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar.
Matthias Ang | August 28, 2022, 07:56 AM

PERSPECTIVE: In June 2021, a Singaporean scam victim founded the Global Anti-Scam Organisation (GASO) to help support people around the world who have been affected by cybercrimes.

Part of this work includes rescuing people who have been lured to countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar by false job advertisements and trapped in secretive compounds where they are made to work as scammers.

Mothership spoke to two Singaporeans who volunteer with GASO in its anti-human trafficking department.

They shared how victims are lured over and dragooned into becoming scammers, how the criminal syndicates behind the advertisements and compounds operate, the various challenges faced in carrying out rescue operations, and what Singaporeans need to be aware of.

On Jun. 19, Lianhe Zaobao shared a video detailing the experience of a 26-year-old Malaysian who decided to accept a job offer in Cambodia, only to end up getting forced to work as a scammer for a criminal syndicate.

His ordeal offered a glimpse into the syndicates operating out of the Cambodian city of Sihanoukville and the nature of the scam operations that he was made to run while trapped in one of many such compounds in various Southeast Asian cities.

A person who refuses to engage in scams could face torture

The Malaysian was made to work as an online investment scammer by looking for potential victims on Chinese social media platforms WeChat and QQ.

He attempted to escape the compound several times but failed due to the compound's isolation and armed security.

The compounds are effectively self-contained neighbourhoods with minimarts, living quarters, clinics, restaurants, massage parlours and salons.

The Malaysian also told stories of people who attempted to leave but were beaten and confined upon being discovered by the syndicate.

Speaking to Mothership, a Singaporean who joined GASO's anti-human trafficking department as a volunteer in March 2022, Lucy (not her real name), said these experiences are typical in such compounds, regardless of whether they are located in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines or Thailand.

Another volunteer, Carol (not her real name), who joined the department in July 2021, said those who refused to be scammers were tortured by the syndicate.

This includes being beaten, starved, locked in a room, having your phone confiscated or being sold off to another syndicate.

Carol also provided photos and videos shared with her by people trapped within compounds in Cambodia.

Carol said these images showed bunk-like living conditions and offices where they must work more than 12 hours to bring in "sales" as a scammer.

According to the accounts of people within these compounds, Carol estimates that working hours there can be up to 14 hours a day.

Those tasked with targeting victims in Asia usually have to work from 10am to midnight, whereas those targeting Europe and the U.S. have to work from 11pm to 12pm the following day.

The scammers are only allowed occasional meal breaks that range from 30 minutes to an hour, Carol pointed out.

In addition, if they cannot meet "sales" targets, they may have to work overtime.

The scammers can also be beaten for their poor performance or a perceived "poor attitude" by the syndicates.

For the scammers, "you never know when they (the syndicates) find fault or when they want to beat you," she highlighted.

On top of that, a debt of tens of thousands of US dollars is usually imposed on the victim by the syndicate — an amount they are required to pay if they want to leave, Carol said.

This is known as the "赔付" or "bondage debt".

The stories recounted by Lucy and Carol are not unique, nor are they the most harrowing. Escaped victims have shared similar stories of confinement and abuse with regional media.

Most of the victims tricked into working for such syndicates are from China, along with many from Southeast Asian countries.

Both Zaobao and Japanese media Nikkei Asia reported that people tricked into working for such syndicates can be subjected to physical abuse such as being beaten repeatedly with a stick or even being electrocuted with a taser.

According to others who escaped, there are also people who allegedly have been killed, with their deaths reported as suicides afterwards, Nikkei Asia further reported.

On Aug. 19, AFP reported that about 40 Vietnamese people escaped from the Golden Phoenix Entertainment Casino in Cambodia by fighting with the security guards and swimming across the river to reach Vietnam.

At least one person has been reported missing after being swept away in the river.
Vietnamese media VNExpress reported that the workers had been persuaded to work at the casino through either advertisements or acquaintances who promised them "easy jobs and high salaries."

However, the workers soon discovered that their role was to trick people into putting their money into online games instead.

If they failed to meet the quotas imposed, they would either be beaten, have their salaries docked, or get sold off to another casino.

One of the victims, who is 20, alleged that they were forced to work 14 hours daily under threat of being beaten to death.

The challenges of rescuing a victim who has been trafficked into a scam compound

The Malaysian in Zaobao's report was eventually rescued after three months, under the coordination of GASO, when he took the risk of being beaten to message his family about his circumstances.

His family filed a report with the Malaysian police and embassy, with the assistance of GASO.

According to Lucy, GASO works with local contacts and organisations on the ground to organise a rescue.

However, such rescues are incredibly challenging to pull off and cannot just be done whenever a call for help is made, she said.

Carrying out an operation involves finding out where the compound is located and the extent of the danger present — such as the ties it has with the local authorities and the syndicate running the compound, Lucy added.

The onus of providing such information is usually on the victims themselves, Lucy pointed out, or the rescuers do not know where to start.

The victims must also avoid getting into more trouble themselves, with GASO generally advising those who call for help to "pretend to be compliant".

    "You have to pretend to be compliant regardless of how much you don't want it (having to scam others) and then from there, we find a way to get you out. It's not immediately you know, I'm not David Copperfield."

In some instances, such as within Sihanoukville, it is "virtually impossible" to save a victim from a compound because of the influence that the syndicate has with the authorities, Lucy further said.

Nikkei Asia noted that syndicates in Cambodia are able to purchase the protection of some local authority figures.

The Japanese media outlet further highlighted that in one case, local police officers accompanied the bosses of a syndicate to recapture trafficked workers who had escaped.

Aljazeera also reported that several scam compounds, particularly those located in Sihanoukville, have links to some of the biggest Chinese investors in Cambodia.

In countries such as Myanmar, the political situation makes it extremely difficult to rescue a victim, Lucy said.

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an American federal institution that deals with violent conflict around the world, reported in April 2021 that following the military coup in Myanmar, transnational Chinese gangs were able to widen their activities within the country by working with factions within the armed forces and various militia groups.

Many of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) within Myanmar, focused around Chinese-owned casino developments, have since become linked to online scams, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, according to an August 2022 feature by The Diplomat.

Not all pleas for help are genuine

This leads to Lucy's next point about the people trapped within the compounds: they are aware of what they are doing.

GASO's anti-human trafficking department does not rescue people who have been at a compound for three months or more because it generally means such "victims" are willing participants in the scams.

If such profiles call for help, according to Carol, it is because they are incompetent at "doing sales" — that is, scamming people.

Lucy added, "Anybody in their right mind, if you do not know what you are being tricked into, will immediately look for help."

Lucy shared a recent case she dealt with — a Hong Konger brought to a scam compound in Myanmar on Aug. 11 after flying over to Thailand on Aug. 10 in response to an advertisement for a job opening.

"He panicked and immediately went to ask his family for help," she said.

In contrast, she added that a call for help from someone who has been at a scam compound for two to three months is "dubious", as it means that this person has probably tried to engage in scamming.

"When we talk to a person who wants to be rescued, we will also roughly know their mindset or their thoughts," she said.

Checks on the person's background will also be carried out. This includes reaching out to their family members to help determine if a person is lying and whether a rescue should be made, Carol further elaborated.

She added that many of the people they talked to wanted to be rescued because they could not do "sales".

Carol acknowledged however, that there is still a minority among this group who really do not want to engage in scams but were doing so under the threat of torture by the compound's management.

How do people even end up there?

This brings up my next question: how do these victims within the compounds even end up in such a position in the first place?

Here, Carol shared another insight she gained from talking to many scammers: many of them are in desperate situations in their home country.

Desperation borne out of debt

According to Carol, many scammers are from mainland China and are either heavily in debt or have a criminal record.

"Basically, they cannot survive in China and they move out," she said.

Compounding this desperation is the fact that many syndicates have lured people through false advertisements promising high salaries for job openings, particularly in Cambodia, mainland Chinese media Global Times and China Daily reported.

Making money through scamming is therefore seen as a means of earning quick money, and a path towards a better life, Carol added.

According to state-run media outlets, the Chinese embassy warned its citizens at least twice in 2022 about such job advertisements.

Elsewhere, in Malaysia and Taiwan, the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has also caused many to seek jobs online. Some inadvertently come across jobs advertisements by the syndicates, Carol pointed out.

A fake translation job advertisement requiring "relocation" to Thailand. Photo courtesy of Carol.

A fake job advertisement calling for people with tech-related skills and promising people with different tiers of pay depending on their specialties. Photo courtesy of Carol.

On Aug. 9, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that one of Taipei's City Councillors (elected lawmakers) issued a warning about several Taiwanese being lured by the promise of lucrative jobs to Cambodia, only to be held against their will and forced to engage in illegal work.

The councillor noted that within Taiwan, organisations behind the fraud lured victims by first inviting job applicants to interviews at expensive venues and then persuading them to sign exploitative contracts after gaining their trust.

However, she acknowledged that some victims could also have prior drug or fraud convictions, which means they are less likely to report their experiences to the Taiwanese authorities. This makes it harder for the authorities to take action.

In Malaysia, Bernama reported in July 2022 that 46 Malaysians were rescued from Cambodia after they were reportedly duped by high-paying job offers.

Malaysia's ambassador to Cambodia, Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, issued a statement warning Malaysians to be cautious of job advertisements promising high salaries overseas.

He said, "Check with relevant authorities including the embassy to validate the job offers. Do inform your parents and relatives in Malaysia if you receive such offer. They might give you a valuable second opinion on whether the job offer is a scam."

A Chinese businessman, who is part of a volunteer network in Cambodia that helps to rescue such victims, gave an estimate of at least 30,000 people who have been trafficked into Cambodia, according to Nikkei Asia.

A spokesperson for Cambodia's police has denied that cases are in the thousands but has acknowledged that "some" cases have happened.

Unsuccessful rescues

A victim who was sold off to another scam compound by his rescue driver in Myanmar

Lucy shared that the first case she ever worked on involved a Chinese victim who ended up in a scam compound in Myanmar due to an online job advertisement for work in Thailand.

He flew to Bangkok, where he was met by a snakehead (human trafficker) at the airport, who took him by car to the Thai town of Mae Sot on the border with Myanmar.

The snakehead then smuggled him across to Myanmar by sailing along the Moei River towards a tiny jetty that turned out to be an entrance to a scam compound.

According to Lucy, three to four days after arriving at the compound, he eventually reached out to GASO.

While at the compound, he was tasked with "recruitment" or luring more people over into the compound, she said.

Lucy highlighted that initially, the man would "recruit" people, then ask her to warn them not to come as it is a scam.

Lucy added that as a result of her interactions with him, she also gained more insights into how the recruitment process worked.

However, once the syndicate boss began checking his communications daily, he could no longer provide such information, resulting in at least one person he "recruited" going over to the compound.

He also made multiple attempts to escape, she said.

However, he would be caught and beaten by men guarding the compound each time.

The man eventually turned to asking his family to help pay for his bondage debt, which started at US$10,000 but subsequently ballooned to more than US$30,000.

The rise was due to the costs of the people he "recruited" but backed out at the last minute being added to the debt, Lucy told me.

This included items such as the price of their air tickets, she added.

He was nonetheless able to raise the inflated amount, with the help of his family.

The man also had to pay an additional sum of almost US$10,000 for a driver who would take him out of the compound.

However, upon leaving the compound, the driver took him to another compound instead, 10 minutes away.

"He had been sold by his driver for US$30,000," Lucy said.

What do Singaporeans need to be aware of?

I then ask Carol and Lucy a question even closer to home: have they encountered any Singaporean victims or scammers so far?

Both of them said that they have only heard about the presence of Singaporeans in Cambodian scam compounds from other scammers they have spoken to.

They have also not personally encountered any Singaporean victims seeking help.

Mothership has reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information on the matter.

When I asked what Singaporeans need to be aware of, Carol told me that it is crucial for Singaporeans to first be aware of the scam industry.

"A lot of Singaporeans don't know about what is going on in the 'dark world'," she said.

"Singaporeans are very sheltered and innocent to a certain extent. It is very easy to get into trouble, really," Lucy pointed out.

There is also the fact that these scammers can be encountered in person in popular holiday hotspots, such as in clubs in Thailand, and can come off as being friendly and approachable.

Such people will strike up conversations with you, said Carol, relating one of her own experiences at a club in Bangkok.

In her case, Carol said that red flags were raised once the person she talked to mentioned that his job involved cryptocurrency and repeatedly asked her to stay with his friends in Thailand for a few more days to spend time together.

Similarly, Lucy shared a story of a Chinese national who claimed that he was kidnapped and sold off to a compound in Myanmar, having been lured by an invitation from an acquaintance and fellow countryman at a club in Thailand, who invited him over to the Thai border city of Mae Sot.

Calling on Singaporeans to be more careful, they said, "Stick to yourself and your friends, don't kay kiang (act smart) and join others, even if they seem 'normal' or 'friendly'."




Offline ainat

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Re: Scam compounds & story
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2022, 12:02:50 PM »
Parents Bring Home 23-Year-Old's Ashes Who Died After He Was Scammed & Abused In Myanmar
Goi Zhen Feng was a victim of an online dating scam who flew to Thailand to meet his girlfriend for the first time.
Aqasha Aiman | 20 Sep 2022

23-year-old Goi Zhen Feng's ashes were brought back home by his parents to Panorama Lapangan Akasia, Ipoh, on Friday, 16 September

According to investigators, Zhen Feng was a victim of an online dating scam and flew to Thailand on 19 January to meet his online “romance”.

He was cremated in the presence of his parents at the Hin Kong Temple in Si Racha, Thailand, on 15 September, reported New Straits Times.

A two-day prayer service was held by Zhen Feng's family and friends to say their final goodbyes.

His parents, Goi Chee Kong and Yang Fei Pin, knew something was amiss when he failed to return home almost a month later

He told his parents before leaving Malaysia that he was going to meet a girl he was in a relationship with for the first time, reported South China Morning Post.

"He met a girlfriend online and they would talk over video calls," Chee Kong was quoted as saying.

"We never saw her face but we heard her voice … whenever we came into the room she would sign off because she was shy or the internet connection would suddenly fail," he added.

Zhen Feng had promised his family that he would return to Malaysia on 5 February, the day before his mother's birthday, but he never showed up for the celebration.

"I knew something was seriously wrong," said Fei Pin.

"My son would always be there on my birthday," she added.

When Zhen Feng arrived in Thailand, he was held captive and trafficked to Myawaddy, Myanmar, a town where many Malaysian job scam victims were allegedly brought to by syndicate members

On 31 March, he phoned his parents for the last time.

"He said he needed RM80,000 for medical treatment. We were certain he was being threatened," said Chee Kong.

"He sounded like he was a completely different person," he added.

His kidnappers allegedly dumped his body in front of a hospital in Mae Sot, Thailand, a town that shares a border with Myanmar, on 11 April

When his body was discovered, Zhen Feng was covered in bruises and scars from the months of abuse he had to endure.

The nurses who cared for Zhen Feng attempted to call his family but were unable to do so because he was registered under "Mu Jun Hong", a fake name given by his abductors. He was also so severely ill that he couldn't speak.

His parents flew to Thailand on 30 August after receiving information that they could meet with their son at the hospital in Mae Sot

His parents brought a pair of new shoes, a set of clothes, and a hat for him. Once they arrived, they were informed that Zhen Feng was pronounced dead on 11 May, and was buried with the fake name.

"We travelled to Bangkok, hoping to bring him back to Malaysia for treatment. However, we were informed that he had died at 2am on 11 May. The doctor believed my son had been abused before he was left at the hospital for treatment on 11 April," Chee Kong told Bernama on 4 September.

Zhen Feng's family proceeded to apply for the process of re-digging the grave to conduct deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing

On 11 September, the results of the DNA test came in and Thai authorities confirmed that the deceased was related to the family and that Chee Kong is (99.99%) the biological father of the victim, reported The Sun Daily.

Zhen Feng's funeral was held at Papan Memorial Park on Sunday, 18 September.


« Last Edit: September 29, 2022, 02:43:22 PM by ainat »

Offline ainat

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Re: Scam compounds & story
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2022, 05:52:07 PM »
S1E11: Tricked to death


---------- start of Video transcript

Funeral music plays.
The engine of the hearse idles.

Respectfully, a mother struggles to stop stroking the
urn of her son while her husband stands
motionless beside her it's time but she's not ready
neither of them are it will be the last journey for their
boy weight and film it's a journey that started online with
the promise of love and led him to his death thousands of miles from home

I'm your host Steve Lai and on this
episode of CNA correspondent you'll hear
a story of desperation manipulation and
Devastation that serves as a cautionary
tale for a growing Regional problem
a warning for anyone looking for work in
Southeast Asia job scams are on the rise
this follows the death of a 23 year old
Malaysian who went to Thailand to meet
an online girlfriend only to be forced
to work for scam networks in Myanmar
this story of Zhen Feng is shocking and
sad but sad is still is it's not an
isolated case transnational crime
syndicates operating in countries like
Myanmar Cambodia and Laos have been
luring victims out of their home
countries with the promise of work money
or love and then enslaving them to carry
out scams themselves with violent
consequences if they resist and here to
tell you about Zhen Feng's story and how
these cross-border crime syndicates
operate and what is being done to stop
it is cna's Malaysia correspondent
Melissa go hi Mal thanks for your time
today pleasure let's start with weights
and Fung you followed his story all the
way to his funeral in his hometown in
IPO perak what did you learn about how
he became a scam victim was targeted by
scammers from the very beginning when he
met a girl via social media sometimes in
August last year although he was always
hurt chatting with her online his
parents including the brothers and the
sister none of them have ever seen a
face or know how she looks like she was
never introduced to them because Zhen Feng
said she's really shy but about five
months into the online relationship
Denver told her parents in January that
he's going to Bangkok to meet her since
there's two weeks break before his final
semester began now his parents didn't
say no because after all John bong is
already 23 years old and he's very well
built he knows Taekwondo six foot tall
he should be able to know how to look
after himself
promised his mom that he will be back in
time to celebrate her birthday but he
didn't come home and he didn't call home
either so the parents got really worried
and decided to launch a police report in
February they suspected something bad
might have happened to him but it never
crossed their minds that the sun was
smuggled into miyadi in southern Myanmar
and sold to an online scam Syndicate in
a notorious KK Park and once he fell
into the hands of these scam syndicates
what happened next according to his
father finally called Home in March and
apologized to his mum that he missed the
birthday and he told them that he caught
covet shortly after he arrived in
Bangkok and he's been sick since then
and he needed about 20 000 US dollars
for medical treatment now he said at
first a Syndicate wouldn't believe him
they've continued forcing to scam others
to come over and when he refused he was
bitten again and again by a fellow
Malaysian from the southern state of
Johor but he didn't name him now the
father told me that he could sense he
could hear that the Sun was being
threatened as he was rather evasive and
that was the last time he got to speak
with his eldest son he died two months
and do we know what the circumstances
were that led to his death after the
alarming phone call the parents launched
another police report and they were told
that Interpol was alerted but they
waited and waited they heard nothing
from the police while zhongphong's
Health got worse it deteriorated so
badly that The Syndicate finally let him
go according to the nurse at Mesa
hospital in Thailand near Myanmar border
Turpin was brought in in April by a
rohingya lady he was immediately
admitted to ICU his urine was all black
and tenfone died in a hospital a month
later according to a Malaysian
assemblyman who accompanied the parents
to claim the body in Thailand the
hospital listed the course of death as
pneumonia and multiple organ failure
really is quite a dire situation that he
found himself in and all that time it
was all based on a lie the girl that he
had thought he had fallen in love with
never existed yes nobody has seen her
face she's a ghost on the social media
the friend sort of her as new zone or
the goddess until today they have no
idea how to trace who this is but they
know that the sun is a scam victim and
he's gone for the parents they are
utterly shattered I saw them at the
funeral they thought their son was still
alive back in August they saw a video
clip of a young man lying in ICU bed
it's just helpless looking in the
hospital bed and somehow the assemblyman
Mr Sim through his friend in Thailand
and managed to get hold of this video
and show it to the parents and they
quickly identified that this could be
the sun they flew over to Thailand and
rushed to Mesa only to be told by the
hospital that the sun had passed away
three months ago in May so it's been
rather daunting for the family and I
understand they also had to exhume his
body from the grave that he had been
buried in you managed to speak to them
during the funeral what did they say in
order to confirm the sun's death they
had to assume the body from DNA tests he
was Bare it in the Masquerade so you
have to find the body first and exhume
it but first the parents had to pay the
hospital bill that came up to about 20
000 US Dollars it was the most painful
three weeks in their lives having to
wait for the DNA test results the
parents decided to cremate the body
after that and bring back the ashes you
know what about the parents the most was
the fact that despite Zhen Feng being so
ill till the very end he didn't give up
he was trying to reach out to the
parents to save him I saw the video clip
of his final days that he was intubated
his eyes wide open but he couldn't speak
the nurse said he tried to press the
number of parents and the nurse to be
fat did try to call that number and
reach their mother but the mother said
no it's not the son because the patient
was registered under a different name so
the son in the end had to die alone in a
foreign land after being abused and
tortured and he tried till very end to
seek help and it's just so painful to
watch them because the mother was crying
and caressing the urn and speaking to
the urn and yet there's nothing they
could do a heartbreaking to hear the
details of this story melon it really is
a terribly sad situation for the parents
to have to go through and for Zhen Feng
himself of course
sad and tragic are the only words I can
use to describe it but it's not as we
also learned from your reporting an
isolated case it's actually been
revealed to be a much bigger problem
these scam syndicates than first thought
so many parents they are appealing for
help after the death of Zhen Feng sent
shockwaves across the country some took
the case straight to the prime
minister's office
urging for Prime Ismail Sabri to help
bring home their sons others waited
outside embassies I was at Laos Embassy
and parents the ngos where they were
submitting a memorandum urging the Laos
government to help officially the
foreign Ministry said they have received
over 300 reported cases across Myanmar
Laos and Cambodia more than half have
since been rescued and returned to
Malaysia and mostly from Cambodia and
lately we are also seeing some returning
from the notorious KK Park in Myanmar
and some from Laos now as we speak some
young relations are still trying to go
over despite the media reports despite
the objections from their parents
they're driven by jobs by money and
other interests some of those returned
to Malaysia they continue to scam others
to go over to scam their friends to go
over despite having gone through the
audio themselves to attended by money
and some were threatened by they're
worried about their own safety that the
syndicates would come after them if they
don't do so so the problem persists and
this is not the end of it it certainly
isn't it's not the end of our podcast
episode either next on CNA
correspondence you'll hear more about
what authorities are doing about it
My name is Joel
host of the new season of the climate
conversations from chefs to scientists
join me as we get personal with the
people driving change in sustainability
look out for our episodes wherever you
get your podcasts
countries should denounce
I should denounce the activities of
human trafficking okay and I think the
Prime Minister should have a discussion
with the with the countries involved in
the primes of the countries involved to
try to solve this problem
that was Malaysia's former Inspector
General of police Musa Hassan calling
for coordinated cooperation at the
highest levels to stop cross-border
syndicates from Human Trafficking by
enslaving online scam victims to carry
out even more scams you're listening to
me Steve lye along with Melissa go cna's
Malaysia correspondent now we were
talking before the break about how big a
problem this is any time that crime
takes place across borders things get
complicated don't they if it's a complex
situation the former Malaysian police
chief Mr Hassan whom I spoke with
recently said he needs tremendous
political will first of all the
government the prime minister himself
must reach out to his counterparts in
Cambodia in Laos and Myanmar and
ambassadors in these countries said that
they are negotiating with authorities
it's a painstaking process these
Malaysians after they are rescued
they're held in Depot because many of
them have broken the immigration laws of
the country so when they were smuggled
in and some were identified as ring
leaders himself and they may be charged
so the Malaysian police even the
Interpol they cannot do much yes it's
kidnapping it's transnational crime it's
human trafficking it's even murder but
they have no jurisdiction to act in
these countries these are sovereign
states so they need to rely on the local
enforcement authorities the agencies to
help them and it's not easy although
Prime Ismail Sabri has given his
assurance that all Malaysian scam
victims will be brought back home safely
many parents are not convinced they are
anxious the longer they wait they fear
for the worst that the children's lives
are in danger
emulation authorities as you mentioned
before the break have managed to recover
and bring home simulations that have
been caught up in these scams are there
steps that the Malaysian government is
taking to help the other hundreds of
citizens that may be getting caught up
in all of this prime minister Ismael
himself has announced to setting up of a
special multi-agency committee led by a
foreign Ministry to oversee the saint
returner of these Malaysian scam victims
the government has been using existing
channels including seeking help from the
local authorities I spoke with the
Malaysian ambassador to Cambodia his
Excellency Eldin husseini mama and he
said some are more proactive than the
others increasingly he's sharing data
Intel pulling Resources with ambassadors
from other countries like Indonesia
Philippines Thailand because their
citizens were also in the same situation
in the same troubles so to put pressure
on Phnom Penh or to any of these
governments to act it's better to speak
with one voice and also when victim sent
out OS messages there are coordinates
sometimes these coordinates may not be
accurate but if the other embassies
receive similar SOS and coordinates
chances of locating the victims their
exact location is far greater he said
also there will be greater pressure on
the authorities to act upon these
requirements so it's team efforts now
and it varies from one country is
another depending how proactive the
ambassadors are yes it certainly needs
some Regional cooperation right indeed
Regional Corporation is key asean must
come together to protect the region as a
whole from being used by International
scam syndicates to host their operations
former police chief Musa Hassan said
that they are churning out scanners
forcing young Malaysians into slaveries
many are now brainwashed when they come
back as a result they are favorable
their lives even after they are back
there's continuous game others to go
over he also thinks that it's not a bad
idea to actually stop them from going
all the young Travelers especially those
traveling solo at least an interview
before they leave the country so that
they don't fall victim to all these
scams and you know if not a band because
I checked with ambassadors it would be a
bad idea to have a blanket ban because
it will be discriminatory and it will be
buyers on certain countries they can't
issue a travel advisory but they can at
least conduct an interview at
immigration before they leave just to be
sure the syndicates tactics are always
evolving they are moving their
headquarters from one place to another
within the region we are hearing some
Malaysian attract in Vietnam so asean
countries must close all doors in order
to be one step ahead of them already
thousands of young Malaysians have
become scam victims some like some fun
they lost their lives many parents also
lost so much money having to rescue
their children
this church has to end it certainly does
if you're listening and thinking you or
someone you know should know more about
how these scams work there's a CNA
explains article on our website
detailing how you can avoid falling for
such scams but Mel from working on this
story what lessons do you think our
listeners should be taking away so we
are all at risk we have to be vigilant
at all times if the job offers promise
High pay and yet no qualification
necessary that itself is a red flag we
just have to be very careful double
check with the embassies I know
sometimes we let our guard down also we
want to believe many people have lost
their jobs they are desperate for money
we all have a collective responsibility
I throw to warn others to spread
awareness to remind each other the
syndicates may be evolving their tactics
but if the media continues to shine a
spotlight on them and they know the
public is waging an all-out war on them
it will be harder for them to pray and
we've got to make that job harder for
them to keep everyone safe thank you Mel
for talking us through this story it's
been great to have you on today thank
you Steve
there's a good chance that while
listening to the Pod you probably had
that old adage of if it sounds too good
to be true it probably is running
through your head I know I certainly did
so what does it come down to desperation
ignorance naivety blind optimism perhaps
all of the above circumstances certainly
play their part as well the victims have
common traits like poor support
structures of family or friends that
they feel that they can talk to they are
in a desperate situation or they want to
feel special whether it's for a romantic
connection or to profit from an
investment opportunity essentially they
all want to feel like they are winning
at life and scammers know this so you
have to acknowledge the level of
sophistication of these scam syndicates
is forever changing and evolving as they
find new ways to prey on our frailties
to counter this as they get smarter we
have to as well and you and I should do
what we can to look out for each other
online because it's not just money at
risk it's lives too.

The podcast team is made up of Jacqueline Chan, Daniel Lee, Christina Robert, Clara Ong, Steve Lai.

---------- end of video transcript

Offline ainat

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Re: Scam compounds & story
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2023, 12:35:06 PM »
Victim Blice Tan

23 April 2023 (CNA): Duped into taking a ‘business development’ job, he was ill-treated, forced to scam by a syndicate,


15 Aug 2022: Victim Sued for Telling His Experiences,


Bilce Tan Legal Defense Fund 陈万庆法律辩护 :

How A Job Scam Turned Me Into A Scammer. I'm Still Seeking Justice

Bilce's forced to scam nightmare in Cambodia syndicate scam compound


« Last Edit: April 23, 2023, 12:37:53 PM by ainat »

Offline ainat

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Re: Scam compounds & stories (and victims)
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2023, 12:48:24 PM »
Youtube: Forced to Scam: Cambodia’s Cyber Slaves,

Transcript from the video:

They target people around the world I
lost over three hundred thousand dollars
Chinese cyber scam operations stealing
tens of billions of dollars these are
sophisticated criminal Enterprises
many of their workers victims too
traffic to enslaved and forced to scam
101 East talks to victims of Global scam
operations and investigates the Chinese
companies behind them and their links to
the Cambodian Elite
basically all my savings that I saved up
to open up my own business
this 33 year old will call Melissa lives
in the United States
during covert working from home and
alone she fell victim to a cyber scam I
was just looking for a fun date
Melissa swiped right when she saw zizel
on dating app hinge in August 2021 using
stolen photos of a Taiwanese actor the
man claimed he was Chinese an architect
and stranded in the United States
because of the pandemic this is another
project he was supposedly working on
he was cute
who would share her arm pictures of his
dog uh you know videos of like where he
went on vacation we text literally
morning tonight every day
it was very very believable
so too was the online Investment Company
he encouraged her to open an account
a very careful person I did my research
about at least I thought I did my
over the next couple of months Melissa
transferred three hundred thousand
dollars to the account via a
cryptocurrency wallet
At first she was able to withdraw the
money but soon became victim to what's
known in China as Pig butchering pump
the pig apparently
I yeah like they're raising pigs they're
gonna fan up the pig which is fan of the
the victim and then once it's it's fat
and juicy which is when they get a lot
of money out of us then they're just
gonna butcher us my scammer he got as
much money out of me as as they can and
then he disappeared
Melissa then discovered the scammers
were not in the United States but in
Southeast Asia it was just a horrible
feeling I don't know if I will ever I
don't know find Justice because he's in
but on the other side of the world
Melissa's scammer may also be a victim
for almost 40 years Cambodia has been
ruled by prime minister one sen and his
Cambodian People's Party
repressive and brutal he his family and
his cronies treat the country like their
own business Empire
Cambodia has long been regarded as one
of the most corrupt countries in Asia
but in the past few years corruption
fear has taken on a whole new dimension
the country becoming a Haven for
ruthless International criminals
across Cambodia compounds like these
surrounded by barbed wire fences have
cyber scam operations run by Chinese
there are thousands of people in
Cambodia being forced to work in
scamming compounds
Jake Sims heads
head zambodia
its organization has been involved in
rescuing Nationals from across Asia
entrapped in compounds
they're consistently reporting that
there are guards armed guards preventing
them from leaving the building so we
know that there's confinement going on
there's reports of people being beaten
they're told if they call the police
that they're going to get beaten they're
threatened to be sold at what appear to
be marketplaces where humans are sold
for thousands of dollars to conduct
these scamming operations
compounds are impenetrable to Outsiders
but on the outskirts of the capital
PanAm pen there's a hotel that's become
a safe house for Chinese Nationals
rescue from behind their walls
volunteer Louisiana hears it all
his phone is full of messages from
Chinese citizens desperate to be free
from scam companies how many do you
receive a day
around him persons the new one every day
one victim sends photos of his injuries
and rights
then there's videos of abuse
Lou says he receives them directly from
victims inside the scam industry or
finds and posted in Social Media Group
they're shocking
but they capture a reality Lou says he
knows firsthand
married with a child and working in the
financial securities industry in China
in late 2020 Lou quit his job to learn
how to run a business traveling to
Cambodia to help manage a friend's
but covert hit the restaurant closed and
Lou was stranded
and that's when a regular customer
offered him a job he'd regret accepting
but on arriving at the company he
discovered he'd been sold to a scam

foreign foreign

other survivors at the safe house reveal
they were traffic from China into the
scamming industry to protect their
identities we've given them pseudonyms
married with a toddler and a new baby
Ming answered an ad on WeChat for office
work in Cambodia
the promised salary was 10 times higher
than what he was earning in waste
was working in a Hot Pot restaurant when
a man she knew offered her a much higher
paid typing job in guansi Province on
the border with Vietnam
but after accepting it she and a friend
found themselves being driven out of the
and things got more terrifying as they
were LED on Fort across a mountain range

23 year old Chef Chen answered an ad to
promote online games
24 year old aspiring golf coach Hong
signed up to be a quality controller in
a food factory
both men had their flights and covid-19
quarantine paid for but when they
arrived for their first day at work they
discovered they'd been duped

all of these victims were locked up in
compounds five hours Drive Southwest of
the capital in the city of sanukville
a massive influx of Chinese investment
has seen it develop from a sleepy
Beachside town to a dangerous Casino
Metropolis where organized crime and
Corruption flourish in the past few
years Sienna has become Ground Zero for
human trafficking and slavery in many of
the buildings in the city people are
held against their will and forced to
scam across the world
it's often weak in highly corrupt
governments that are allowing these
sorts of activities to take place
a fluent Mandarin speaker Jason Tower is
a security expert who's been tracking
Chinese scam syndicates operating across
southeast Asia it's the first thing they
do on arrival in Cambodia is they will
work to build close relationships with
extremely senior leaders if you start to
look at you know who are the names on
the titles of some of the businesses
that hold the buildings in which these
activities take place you'll find that
there are people who are closely
connected to the highest levels of
leadership in in Cambodia
scattered around the city the light of
day reveals the size of the scamming
this is known as Crown Industrial Park
it's owned by Crown Resorts a subsidiary
of anco Brothers a company owned by
government senator kokane
security guards uniforms are emblazoned
with a badge for his andco water supply
lucianry says he was entrapped here
on his second day in captivity Lou
emailed the Chinese Embassy he was
advised to call the sea knockfield

Facebook messages to the scenic Bill
but the police never came
oh yeah
five days
Lou says the managers then sold him to
another scamming company
he was then forced into a car and driven
to this compound bearing the signage k99
a company owned by a relative of Senator
cochan his son-in-law's brother Richie
ruksmai and what happened while you were
coincidence down
Luke contains it was this man who was
reportedly found hanging just hours
at k99 he was spared physics physical
sold again this time for eighteen
thousand dollars to Yin Jin Casino
yeah foreign
's governor with a contact for his
within 24 hours police were on their way
but many others suffer for much longer
these messages were sent to Lou by a
victim held in Sea nookville in February
2022 he also shared this extortion video
his captors forced him to send to his
half an hour after getting three
thousand dollars his captors raised the
threats and demands
he sent these photos of the building and
the street below to help Rescuers locate
him but another day passed

so this is the shop front that the man
photographed and this is the compound he
said he was imprisoned in
the building is connected to nanhai
International Hotel a development
closely linked once again to cochan's
relative Richie ruxmai
the victim was rescued but others do
risk jumping to escape
like Ming after being traffic from China
he says he was sold for almost five
thousand dollars to accompany in another
scene up for compound
he says he was made to scam Targets in
China and around the world and was
traded between companies on different
he wasn't even
in the early hours of June 29 2021 Ming
evaded security guards and jumped from
the first floor
but he landed badly sir seriously
injuring himself
driver who put him to the hospital
about five kilometers across town is
Victory Paradise Resort and Casino
expecting to start work as a quality
controller in a food factory Hong was
instead delivered to a scam business

hangs in real estate is closely linked
to one of the largest conglomerates in
Cambodia the prince group
standing next to the prime minister is
Prince group chairman chinese-born
granted Cambodian citizenship in 2014
six years later he received the
country's highest honorary title opnea
for his donations to Public Works and
was also made an advisor to hunsen
like all victims we interviewed when
Hong arrived he was made to surrender
his passport and sign a contract that
bonded him to the company
he was then confined to the compound and
ordered to scam
says they'd contact victims normally
uneducated Farmers on Chinese social
media app QQ build a relationship then
entice them to make investments in a
there were a couple of hundred people
scamming for the company and the success
rate was high

Enterprises appear to operate with
impunity so the prime minister's summer
residence is just there and across the
road is White Sands Hotel and Casino
and behind the white sand company is you
Ling Zhong often seen with the Prime
Minister he's in business with the
daughter of hunsen's personal security
Chief a man who's been sanctioned by the
US for human rights abuses
knowing in his homeland as a father of
pyramid schemes used being implicated in
numerous criminal fraud cases there and
after losing several civil cases had
assets Frozen by Chinese courts
in 2018 he became a Cambodian citizen
changing his name to Poe chunnit and set
himself up as a cryptocurrency guru
sixteen-year-old Lynn says she was sold
to White Sand Palace Hotel in August
restricted to the upper levels these
photographs lean talk show The View over
the prime minister's residence she says
she was forced to do sex scams


she tells how she and others were
constantly abused by the company
and according to Lynn he also came into
the dormitory when they were sleeping

to block out the horror she started
taking sleeping tablets
the whole church
then one day after three months
imprisoned it all got too much
foreign because they are trying to find
Jehovah Louisiana
which is where Lucy Henry's team picked
her up and took her to a safe house
not far away is this large compound
known as white sand too
Chen was brought here in May 2021 he was
told he needed to work for the business
for six months or pay them more than six
thousand dollars to leave

days on a cryptocurrency romance scam
targeting wealthy Chinese women living
the first thing they had to do was
create a fake persona using videos and
photos from the internet

victim Melissa Chin's testimony is hard
to listen to
that's the script that my scammer used
on me
you know they're using sad stories you
know to to to get more money out of out
of us and my scammer used the the plot
that his his girlfriend cheated on him
they have scripts for him pretty much
for everything
but for Melissa it wasn't just about
money I think the the hardest impact on
me it was the emotional side they they
used me when when I was most vulnerable
when I was most lonely
you want to trust people and believe
them but after being scammed how can you
trust anyone anymore
chin certainly couldn't trust his
captors just day shy of six months at
White Sand two and his promise Freedom
he was sold
not far from's tranquil Shores is a
Precinct known as Chinatown

on street level we secretly film the
steel bars inside a restaurant barber
shop and Pharmacy preventing those
inside the compounds from escaping
a police station is right on the corner
were you Hong spent nine months enslaved
he was sold to four different companies
here each time his price and debt to the
company increasing
your hair power
ful guitar
he spent most time in this Chinatown
compound known as Jin sway it's owned
and developed by Yunnan Jing Chang group
headed by chinese-born now Cambodian
National dongla Chung
frequently seen with the Prime Minister
Hansen in 2008 dong was convicted of
money laundering in China
then he's been at the center of multiple
bribery cases there
You know despite the fact that he had
been involved in giving those bribes
somehow he he never had to really serve
time he then sort of seems to have
shifted and moved off to Cambodia
in Cambodia dongla Chung's done business
deals with Senator Cochran's relative
Richie ruxmai and is not only involved
in major development projects like this
one but also heads up a bank and an
in 2018 he provided a luxurious jetliner
to fly hunsen and his Entourage to a UN
General Assembly meeting in New York I
guess offering perks like this certainly
is one way to develop a business in a a
country where you know rule of law is is
not so present
Hong's first stint at dongla Chung's
ginsway compound saurum confined to this
according to Hong the criminal
Enterprise he was forced to work for
targeted people who had already been
what's up
and then when victims wanted to withdraw
their money the practice of pig
butchering would begin
four months on Hong was desperate to get
he found louisianree's volunteer team
online they reported his case along with
four others to the National Police but
before he was rescued Hong says he was
locked in a tiny room for three days
without food or water

next to Jean sway is a compound known as
kybo or KB
KB hotel and casino front the street
once again government Senator kokane has
close ties to the site his recently
deceased son-in-law Ricky sumnung was
chairman of KB hotel until his recent
death but some lungs business partner KB
hotel director Zhu Amin is of even more
interest here he's another convicted
criminal in 2013 China issued an
Interpol read notice against him after a
Chinese Court sentenced him to 10 years
in jail for masterminding an illicit
International gambling ring worth 1.75
billion dollars this is another pattern
that we've seen where people who are
convicted criminals somehow were able to
abscond and really continue doing the
same sorts of criminal activity that
they'd been doing back in China without
any form of of repercussions or or
pictured here with Richie sumnung and
the National military police Commander
the Chinese fugitive is also wanted in
Hong Kong for money laundering and has
had his HSBC Bank accounts Frozen so you
can see that the methods that the
criminal networks are using I mean
they're they're co-opting Elites uh that
offer them protection from local law
enforcement but also from international
law enforcement including law
enforcement back in China
at the notorious KB compound Chen says
he was confined in building five
cryptocurrency investment scam is hidden
hidden behind its walls
using China's ban on bitcoin as the
premise Chen says the company Spiel
pretended to offer victims the chance to
profit from wealthy Chinese
they then get victims to download the
company's fake platform and also a
legitimate crypto exchange platform like
Finance or coinbase
the scam company had tricked the victim
into giving it access to their crypto
wallet yeah

and the company would then watch and
wait as the victim
and from what chin tells us the company
was using sophisticated technology that
allowed each worker to Target at least
500 people a day

software also enabled them to log into
20 to 30 WhatsApp Accounts at the same
time and instantaneously translated

after two months in the KB compound Chen
and a friend tried to escape squeezing
through the bars in a room off the
the next day still handcuffed together
they were dragged to the office and
to a friend four days later shows his
six weeks on other wounds are still
Chen says the manager demanded they each
pay a fine of fifteen thousand dollars
threatening to sell them to another
company if they didn't comply

Chen's sister paid the money and then
sent more for
governor and through him the police

weddings in Cambodia including Chinese
Thais Indonesians Vietnamese Malaysians
and Burmese but the province's Deputy
Governor long De Monte claims most
complaints of trafficking and
confinement by scam companies are
fabricated and merely contract disputes
they are bondage of these and they are
okay but please let him finish I think
that uh what I have talked uh he didn't
finish yet and then he will tell
you it was more of the same
but he refuses to say which ones
pictured at an official occasion with
dongla Chung the Tycoon behind scam
compounds in sway the Deputy Governor
claims he's never heard of neighboring
compound director Zhu I'm in despite the
fugitives high profile including a road
named after him so were you looking to
Zhu and Ben and the Interpol red notice
you know we are a local government we
are you know
our jurisdiction we have you know
when we raise Senator cochan's Crown
industrial park and complaints made by
Louisiana and other victims directly to
the governor and police they're
apparently not
and as far as complaints from Thai
authorities that some 3 000 of their
Nationals are enslaved by scamming
syndicates he's derisary it is very
difficult for me to believe it but if
you get a strong evidence we bring the
offenders to to the court for the
I think maybe that's enough
heading out of saying we travel 400
kilometers Northwest to a site where
more than 100 ties were freed in
November 2021.
so this is a special economic zone in
Passat and just over there is the Thai
border as you can see there's absolutely
nothing around except for this compound
where many of the victims have told us
that they were confined

Hong was here in July 2021
16 year old Lynn was trafficked from
China to scam operations here in early
was brought from China to the compound
after accepting a job promoting online
games but instead it was an online
gambling scam
by Cambodian Tycoon tree pip a former
adviser to Hoon sen in 2019 he was
sanctioned by the U.S for large-scale
corruption and environmental destruction
his house overlooks the compound
locals like this woman tell of Horrors
recalls this happening to those who try
to escape
so what is the owner of the Zone
providing I mean you might even call it
a special criminal Zone in that they're
providing a place beyond the rule of law
they're providing a place where people
who want to
um be involved in all sorts of fraud or
other illicit activities can safely base
themselves right they're not the ones
actually perpetrating the crimes they're
just trying to provide a good
environment for the criminals the buses
at the compound bear the signage of
Chinese conglomerate hung hoo tree pip
is a company chairman
hung was sold to a company here from sea
nookville's Infamous KB compound
KB and hung her are intimately entwined
they share directors
china-born now Cambodian citizen with a
new name Chen Arlen is a director of KB
and numerous hung her companies
so too was Sue jongjian who also had
other businesses with KB directors
Senator cochan's son-in-law Richie
samnung and fugitive Zhu I mean
but perhaps of greatest significance is
another director of several hung her
companies including a bank prime
minister Hansen's nephew hunto
reportedly suspected by Australian
police of drug trafficking I think this
is uh really just more of an indication
of how embedded these criminal networks
are becoming in a country like Cambodia
we are the head of cambodia's National
Committee for counter-trafficking Chu
bonang about the rescue of Thai
Nationals from the hung her compound
even though hundreds of people have been
rescued no charges have been laid
against that company or any individuals
linked to it I don't believe so because
the judge can be take time you know to
make decisions
but when we raise the fact that
individuals close to the Prime Minister
are linked to the site her knowledge of
the case suddenly evaporates he's sort
of concern to you that this Zone owned
by tree pip who has been an advisor to
the prime minister is the site of human
trafficking and illegal Global scams you
see actually I do not have familiar with
this case but you can contact a relevant
Authority is closer but trafficking is
your issue are you not concerned
being trafficked this case is one case
so it seems like but it did involve
hundreds of people also the compound has
links to the prime minister's nephew
hunto so so let me check first because I
do not familiar with this okay I mean
does that concern you that a large
Chinese company linked to the prime
minister's nephew is is linked to human
trafficking and cyber scams yeah I think
that you may uh what we call
aware I did more than me okay okay so uh
so uh stop by here I will come to
my stuff to get my phone
when she comes back her call to a
departmental official delivers no
answers he said that the operation is
not under the responsibility of
anti-driving unit so it seems like that
Beyond you know our responsibility
even though Chu bonang is also a
secretary of state of the Interior
Ministry that oversees the National
Police and liaisers with international
law enforcement authorities including
Interpol fugitives like KB compounds you
I mean are also Beyond her
responsibility as a long time member of
this government yes are you not
concerned that you come in a wanted
fugitive is able to set up a company in
Syria said that we are not concerned you
know because we have our
how is he able to set up a company in
this country that ends up being involved
in human trafficking and cyber scams
worth millions of dollars
how is that possible it seems like there
are the responsibility
in different units you know so if they
just doing on that you know how I can
interfere because I think that the
The Authority you know they aware about
you I mean another individuals named in
the program didn't respond to
allegations raised

except for the prime minister's nephew
hunto when he's not in Switzerland with
his family he's often in Australia's
Southeastern City Melbourne where he has
a company owns real estate and drives a
Lamborghini it's Marianne Jolly from Al
Jazeera when we visit his family home
we're told he's not there
but in a message to 101 East he declined
to be interviewed stating he's not a
competent authority to deal with the
said issues and not aware of any cyber
scam operations
back in Phnom Penh the suffering of
victims of the scam industry continues
lucianry is still Fielding cries for
help on his phone and assisting those
already rescued
this 27 year old jumped from a scam
compound in January 2022 in the northern
Thai Border City of poipet
it's been the scene of numerous rescues
of Thai Nationals
but the belt he attached to the railing

dragged him back to the to the clowned
where he says his boss extorted thirty
thousand dollars from his family before
sending him to hospital
and his family paid another fifteen
thousand dollars for his surgery unable
to afford to recover in hospital all he
wants is to go home to them

into Thunder
is something beautiful
other Chinese victims are also waiting
the covert border restrictions to be
lifted in their Homeland and for new
travel papers
after a year away Ming's newborn son is
now walking
and he's one of the lucky ones many
thousands are still waiting to be freed
while Chinese scam syndicates act with
impunity in a country where corruption
has no limits