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NGO’s tip-off leads to raid on Cambodian scam compound, rescuing 200 victims including a Malaysian

In a remarkable operation, Malaysian NGO collaborated with International Justice Mission (IJM) and Cambodian police to rescue a stranded Malaysian victim ensnared in a job scam.

Simultaneously, the local police dismantled a notorious scam syndicate in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, freeing over 200 victims, including the apprehension of three Chinese nationals.

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MALAYSIA: In a remarkable operation, the Malaysia International Humanitarian Organization (MHO) provided crucial intelligence to the Cambodian police, resulting in the successful rescue of a stranded Malaysian victim ensnared in a job scam.

Simultaneously, they effectively dismantled a notorious scam syndicate compound at Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Furthermore, local law enforcement authorities managed to apprehend three Chinese nationals, including the ringleader and liberated more than 200 individuals who had been subjected to forced labour within the scam company.

In the early morning of 7 October, Azirul Syafiq, the MHO representative, accompanied a Malaysian victim on their journey back to Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s second terminal.

This marked the end of a harrowing two-month ordeal that had unfolded in the depths of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

MHO’s strategic rescue efforts

During a press conference held at the airport, Mr Syafiq unveiled the intricate details of how MHO had clandestinely established contact with the Malaysian victim, gathering invaluable information about the illicit operations of the scam company.

At the time, Mr Syafiq was still in Thailand, overseeing another rescue mission for a victim from Sabah who was stranded in Myanmar.

Azirul Syafiq promptly reached out to a representative from the International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Police of Cambodia.

This vital connection enabled the seamless relay of intelligence to local law enforcement authorities.

With the collaborative assistance of multiple agencies and dedicated police officers, they executed a daring rescue operation, extricating the victim from one of the scam companies operating in Sihanoukville.

Mr Syafiq reported, “Upon receiving this crucial information, the Phnom Penh police took swift action within 24 hours, liberating the victims from the clutches of the company and apprehending three Chinese nationals, including the mastermind behind the scam operation.”

The scam compound that enslaved 200 victims from China and Taiwan

He further divulged, “Within the compound where the victims were held, over 200 victims were discovered, with only one being Malaysian. The remainder hailed from China and Taiwan.”

“As the police efficiently dismantled the illegal scam compound, over 200 victims were handed over to the respective authorities and consulates, paving the way for their safe return to their home countries.”

Mr Syafiq concluded, “This operation stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to combating fraud and addressing the grave issue of human trafficking.”

He also disclosed that the syndicate’s leader had gone to despicable lengths, instructing employees to partake in the abduction of wealthy Chinese nationals, leading to potential kidnapping charges.

Victim tempted by US$1,350 monthly job offer in Cambodia

The Malaysian victim, identified under the pseudonym Ah Cheng and aged 28, had been enticed by the promise of a high-salary job as a casino dealer in Cambodia, with the lure of a monthly income of US$1,350 (approximately 6,382 Malaysian Ringgit).

However, what transpired was a nightmare of job scams, characterized by two months of physical abuse, electric shocks, and coercion by the syndicate to participate in the abduction of Chinese nationals in a desperate bid to meet performance targets.

Recalling the events that led to his ordeal, he explained that in August of this year, a friend had introduced him to the casino dealer job in Cambodia, with the promise of a monthly salary of US$1,350 (approximately 6,382 Malaysian Ringgit).

However, his aspirations were shattered as he found himself ensnared in the web of a ruthless scam. It was only when Azirul Syafiq of MHO intervened that he found his path to escape.

Azirul Syafiq detailed that after the victim’s arrival in Cambodia, his passport was forcibly confiscated by the perpetrators.

Subsequently, he was coerced into boarding a passenger-cargo truck that transported him to the scam company’s location in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Fortunately, the victim managed to retain possession of his mobile phone, which was not confiscated by the members of the scam group.

This lifeline allowed him to maintain contact with his family and alert the authorities to his dire situation.

Upon receiving the complaint from his family three weeks ago, MHO promptly initiated a rescue operation.

Victim forced into abducting wealthy Chinese targets

Mr Syafiq added, “The victim endured severe physical abuse and electric shocks, largely due to his resolute nature and inability to meet the performance targets set by the scam group. ”

“Among all the employees, he bore the brunt of the mistreatment.”

He further revealed that, aside from their involvement in scam work, the victims were also coerced into participating in the kidnapping of affluent Chinese individuals.

The scam group was now resorting to any means necessary to generate more illicit profit.

Mr Syafiq also emphasized that Sihanoukville was a major hub for scams, serving as a central location for human trafficking and various fraudulent activities.

“For your information, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, from my experience, is a major center for storing, imprisoning, forcing, and operating human trafficking syndicates and scam operations.”

“There are numerous facilities near Sihanoukville, so scam groups rent nearby buildings to set up companies for their fraudulent activities.”

Although the majority of the victims were held in Sihanoukville, he added that based on information we received through the collaboration between MHO and the IJM, Cambodia is not the primary focus for trapping individuals, especially Malaysians.

He asserted that currently, MHO’s primary focus is on Myanmar.

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.

Southeast Asian nations, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), have launched a strategy plan aimed at tackling organized crime and human trafficking in the region.

The new plan aims to strengthen preventative measures and enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies to combat international organized crime and human trafficking on a regional scale.

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