June 25, 2024

Tens of thousands are swindled by employment frauds in South East Asia [Getty Images]

The government of India has thus far managed to save 250 nationals in Cambodia who were compelled to orchestrate online scams.

These individuals were offered jobs, but were forced into illicit cyber activities, according to the foreign ministry of India.

Recent reports indicate that more than 5,000 Indian citizens stranded in Cambodia were coerced into running cyber scam operations.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of individuals globally have become victims to job cons in South East Asia carried out by human traffickers.

Victims, commonly younger and tech-savvy, are promised jobs but are deceitfully enrolled into illegal cyber tasks such as money laundering, crypto scams and so-called “love scams”, where they impersonate online romantic partners.

According to a UN report in August 2023, at least 120,000 people in Myanmar, and another 100,000 in Cambodia, were forced into conducting cyber scam activities.

This recent rescue operation in South East Asia follows several similar ones held previously. In March, officials rescued hundreds of victims from a scam hub in the Philippines, where they were made to dupe people by feigning romantic interest online under a pseudonymous identity. A few weeks prior to that, hundreds of Chinese citizens were brought back from scam operations in Myanmar.

India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, stated over the weekend that India is closely collaborating with Cambodian authorities to take action against those behind these deceptive operations.

A total of 75 individuals have been rescued by India in the past quarter, while the timeline for the others remains uncertain.

The Cambodian embassy in India was contacted by the BBC for a comment.

The Indian Express newspaper reported last week that the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh had received 130 complaints of Indians being detained against their will in Cambodia.

These individuals were among thousands who were allegedly arm twisted into executin scams on citizens in India and in some instances, extracting money by pretending to be law enforcement personnel.

According to the newspaper, the victims in India had been deceived out of a total of at least 5bn rupees ($59m; £47m) in the preceding six months.

The paper also cited an official from the Indian embassy in Cambodia as disclosing that they get around four to five complaints per day from individuals trapped in Cambodia after being offered work opportunities.

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

Upon arrival, he was instructed to establish fake social media accounts using photographs of women and then make contact with people.

Delve into more tales from India on the BBC: