Michael Chong: More than 50 Malaysians held captive by scam syndicates in 4 countries

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Held captive by armed men in a compound in Cambodia, Malaysians who were tricked by human trafficking syndicates into leaving the country had no choice but to work in their captors’ online scams.

More than 50 Malaysians are being held captive in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand by online scam syndicates, according to the MCA public services and complaints department.

The department’s head, Datuk Seri Michael Chong, said it had received calls from some of the victims the past two months asking to be rescued from captivity.

He said the victims had been deceived with offers to work as telemarketers with salaries of US$3,000 (RM12,655) to US$4,000 per month.

“We are working together with the embassies and Royal Malaysia Police to rescue those victims. We also appeal to young people to be more careful and not be easily cheated and blinded by the high salary that the syndicates offer.

Ong Soon Hin/The Star

“The victims send me pictures of themselves, sometimes battered and bruised, pleading to be rescued,” he said at a press conference today.

Chong said that the syndicates even used agents to demand large ransoms from family members of their captives in order to release them.

It was reported last week that at least 26 Malaysians have fallen prey to human trafficking syndicates and are believed to be still under their control and being forced to work overseas.

They are believed to be in the hands of the syndicates for between two and six months already.

During the press conference, Chong also made video calls to two men who claimed that they were being held against their will by a syndicate in Cambodia.

“We could not run away. The compound was secured by men with guns and handcuffs.

“We were forced to work for at least 15 hours daily scamming people around the world,” he said, adding that the syndicate members threaten to rape the girls when they did not hit their targets.

One of them, who wants to remain anonymous, said there were 13 Malaysians, including five women aged between 17 and 36, in the same area as him who were forced to work as “scam operators”.

“We were told to scam our customers, and if we could not do that, we would be confined in a room without food for two or three days,” he said.

The other victim claimed that he was with a different group of about 50 Malaysians, including a woman, also in Cambodia.

He said they were taken to Cambodia by flight or through illegal land routes.

“We must follow instructions or we will never know our fate,” the victim said.