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250 Indians Rescued From Cambodian Cyber-Scam Factories

The Indian government has successfully rescued 250 of its citizens in Cambodia who were coerced into engaging in online scams.

According to India’s foreign ministry, these individuals were initially promised legitimate employment but were later “compelled to engage in illegal cyber activities.”

Recent reports have indicated that over 5,000 Indians stranded in Cambodia were compelled to participate in cyber-fraud operations.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide have become victims of human traffickers operating job scams in Southeast Asia.

Typically, these victims, who are often young and technologically adept, are offered employment opportunities before being ensnared in various illicit online activities such as money laundering, cryptocurrency fraud, and romance scams.

A United Nations report released in August 2023 revealed that approximately 120,000 individuals in Myanmar and another 100,000 in Cambodia were coerced into participating in cyber-fraud operations.

This latest incident adds to a series of rescue operations targeting victims of such schemes in Southeast Asia. In March, law enforcement authorities rescued hundreds of individuals from a fraudulent operation in the Philippines where they were coerced into engaging in romantic online interactions under false identities. Prior to that, China facilitated the repatriation of hundreds of its citizens from similar scam operations in Myanmar.

Randhir Jaiswal, a spokesperson for India’s foreign ministry, stated over the weekend that the country is collaborating closely with Cambodian authorities to “crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes.”

India has confirmed the rescue of 75 individuals over the past three months, although details regarding the timeline for the remaining rescues remain unclear.

The news has reached out to the Cambodian embassy in India for comment.

Recent reports from an Indian newspaper revealed that the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh had received 130 complaints from Indians allegedly held against their will in Cambodia.

These individuals were among thousands who were purportedly coerced into scamming individuals in India or extorting money from them by posing as law enforcement officers.

According to the newspaper, victims in India have collectively lost at least 5 billion rupees ($59 million; £47 million) over the past six months.

Additionally, the Indian embassy in Cambodia reportedly receives an average of four to five complaints daily from individuals trapped in Cambodia after being offered employment 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 and offered a data entry job in Cambodia.

Upon arrival, Stephen claimed that he was instructed to create fake social media accounts featuring photos of women and use them to initiate contact with people.

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