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Malaysian trapped in Myanmar scam park, subjected to torture over unmet US$50,000 monthly target

A 29-year-old Malaysian, lured by a friend from Guangzhou, ended up in a Myanmar scam operation, enduring torture and abuse for falling short of a US$50,000 monthly target.

After his family paid RM 50,000 (approximately US$10,575) ransom for his release, the victim finally ended his 1 year and 7 months ordeal and reunited with his loved ones.

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MALAYSIA: A 29-year-old Malaysian, enticed by his Chinese friend from Guangzhou, tragically found himself compelled to work as part of a scam operation in Myanmar.

He endured torture, electric shocks, and starvation from the group as a consequence of failing to meet a monthly performance target of US$50,000.

He remained trapped in the compound for an agonizing period of 1 year and 7 months until his family paid a ransom of RM 50,000 (approximately US$10,575) to secure his safe return.

According to the Malaysian Chinese media outlet, China Press, the victim, identified as Mr Lee, had worked in the oil and natural gas industry in Johor for nearly 6 years.

Guangzhou friend boasted of over US$1,200 monthly Income in Thailand’s oil and gas sector

He recounted that he had fallen victim to deception by a Chinese friend from Guangzhou, someone he had known for approximately 6 years.

This friend had represented himself as working in Thailand’s oil and natural gas industry, earning a monthly income ranging from RM 5,000 to 6,000 (approximately US$1,269).

Due to his deep trust in this friend, he harboured no suspicions.

In March 2022, he embarked on a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, Thailand, in search of work but was ultimately ensnared into a fraudulent scheme in Myanmar.

Upon his arrival in Thailand, he underwent a one-day quarantine before purchasing a bus ticket to a specific location, where he awaited transportation arranged by undisclosed parties.

After a 30-minute drive, the driver unexpectedly instructed him to disembark and switch to another vehicle.

Inadvertent river crossing leads to unintended entry into Myanmar territory

Unbeknownst to him, he had arrived at a riverbank, unaware that the opposite bank marked the border into Myanmar.

He adhered to the instructions and crossed the river on foot, inadvertently stepping into the territory of Myanmar.

During this time, he remained confined within the compound. Fortunately, his phone had not been confiscated, enabling him to discreetly contact his family for assistance.

However, during his second month in captivity, he was transferred to another company for what was ostensibly “employment.”

At this juncture, his phone was seized, and he was sternly warned that failing to meet the prescribed “performance” targets would result in punishment, flogging, and electric shocks.

Mr Lee mentioned that the performance targets varied between companies.

In his situation, the monthly target was a staggering US$50,000. Meeting this target would grant him access to his phone; otherwise, he would be subjected to physical abuse, electric shocks, and starvation.

The majority of the injuries he suffered were concentrated on his thighs.

He mentioned that, after falling prey to deception, he relentlessly sought a means of escape.

Once his family became aware of his plight, they turned to a social media influencer known as “Thai’s Dragon,” Mr Victor Wong, for assistance.

Mr Wong has been providing assistance to victims ensnared in job scams, helping them escape from criminal syndicates in Myanmar and return home.

RM 50,000 ransom for freedom

Mr Lee revealed that, eventually, his family paid a ransom of RM 50,000, which facilitated his safe return home.

Upon checking Mr Wong’s Facebook page, known as “Thai’s Dragon,” it was apparent that he had shared a post about a Malaysian Chinese who had been deceived by a friend and ended up in Myanmar, subsequently returning to Malaysia on the night of October 4th.

“Deceived by supposed good friends and having endured a year of hardship, beatings, and electric shocks in Myanmar, tonight (October 4th) finally brings you back to your homeland (Malaysia) through legal means. I wish you a joyful reunion with your family.”

Individuals with intellectual disabilities and physical impairments not spared by job scam syndicates

In recent years, Myanmar and Cambodia have grappled with headlines of online fraud-related human trafficking schemes.

These unlawful groups operating in Myanmar spare no one in their relentless pursuit of ill-gotten gains. Alarmingly, even individuals with intellectual disabilities and physical impairments are vulnerable to becoming victims of their deceitful job schemes.

The Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) has recently unveiled a shocking statistic, revealing that over 1,000 Malaysians have fallen victim to human trafficking operations in Myanmar.

The victims of these crime syndicates are diverse, ranging from recent university graduates and ordinary salaried workers to unexpected targets like a multimillionaire in China, who could never have imagined falling into the clutches of a scam centre in Myawaddy.

Chinese victim’s cautionary advice:  “Don’t talk to Chinese people”

One such victim, 46-year-old Xin Weilin, the CEO of a Guiyang-based tourism company with 142 global stores, tragically found himself entangled in a web of deception.

Mr. Xin was deceived by a fellow countryman and lured by the allure of potential business opportunities in Thailand, only to find himself trapped in a nightmarish scam park in Myawaddy, Myanmar.

Mr Xin recounted the grim conditions within the compound dedicated to telecom fraud. It was fortified with towering walls, razor wire, and armed security personnel.

He endured relentless physical abuse and eventually seized an opportunity under the cover of pre-dawn darkness to escape from the approximately 5-meter-high compound wall, despite sustaining multiple fractures.

He recounted how Chinese nationals were often seen as easy prey, referred to as “walking money” in Myanmar.

Even after successfully escaping from the scam park, he found himself handed over to corrupt local police and subsequently transferred to a Burmese general’s custody.

During this period, Mr Xin endured time in immigration detention centers as his friends and family tirelessly sought assistance from the Chinese Embassy in Thailand. It was only in January 2023 that Mr. Xin was finally able to return to China.

Mr Xin’s story has received extensive coverage in Chinese media, and he has consistently used the media as a platform to warn his fellow countrymen about the dangers of falling victim to online job scams and to advocate for caution when encountering dubious offers on the internet.

Reflecting on his harrowing ordeal in Myanmar, he offered a word of caution: “Avoid interactions with Chinese nationals when you’re abroad, and exercise caution when dealing with Chinese strangers.”

He observed that all the kingpins in the “scam park” were Chinese, with rarely any foreigners involved in these fraudulent activities.

“With just four to five years in the scam business, these syndicates can amass billions, providing them with little incentive to release their victims.”

“This is how Chinese people would think: ‘They want to exploit your value to the fullest extent.’”

 

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