November 28, 2022


In recent years, Cambodia has hosted high-rise complexes – many of which are built in China-administered “special economic zones” – that human rights advocates say act in part as factories for online financial fraud being conducted against victims across Asia and, increasingly, the states. United. Forbes It recently revealed a fraud victim in California who lost more than $1 million to what is known as a “pig slaughter” scam, in which the fraudster builds a long-term relationship with his victim before persuading him to invest money in a cryptocurrency scheme.

Within these centers, workers who have been lured and trafficked from neighboring countries are forced to carry out these scams via various online channels. However, as part of a nationwide talk repression Against what Cambodian government officials have described as “illegal gambling,” at least some building complexes believed to house crypto-fueled financial frauds. I broke down Experts say in recent days.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Sar Kheng, Cambodia’s interior minister, said 176 people had been arrested in connection with the series of raids involving eight nationalities. in statement Issued on Sunday by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Government, authorities said they found in the raid four rifles, 804 computers, 16 laptops, 36 passports, four pairs of handcuffs, eight electric batons, and “two electro-shock igniters.” And nearly 9000 phones.

People trapped in these complexes often come from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, among other neighboring countries, with the promise of high-paying jobs. However, once in Cambodia, they are forced to deceive people online, sometimes under the threat of violence.

Pilsi Tan, a 41-year-old Malaysian man, says that in April he saw an online job advertisement that caught his eye. This job, for a management position in Cambodia at a digital marketing company, was supposed to pay 12,000 ringgit, or roughly $2,700 per month. That’s nearly six times the average salary in his home country, according to To the latest data from Statistics Malaysia.

tan said Forbes That he was held for a few weeks in the Sihanoukville compound earlier this year, before he was able to escape, stating that he wasn’t good at deceiving people. But he described getting 10 phones, two computers and “seven or eight fake accounts to communicate with these victims.”

“As long as the primary owners are not brought to justice, these fraud factories will continue and they will also move to other countries. They are still making great profits.”

Jan Santiago, Deputy Director of the World Anti-Fraud Organization

Some experts in Cambodia are not convinced that the latest government crackdown marks a definitive end to the massive, years-long scam in the Southeast Asian country.

“It has become a diplomatic embarrassment for a country that appears to be harboring criminal elements operating a sovereign operation in economic zones,” said Soval Air, a Cambodian-American professor at Arizona State University. Forbes.

Likewise, Jean Santiago, deputy director of the Los Angeles-based Global Anti-fraud Organization, said he doesn’t expect this to stop scams dramatically.

“This may temporarily disable electronic fraud activities from Cambodia,” he said in a text message. “As long as the primary owners are not brought to justice, these fraud factories will continue and they will also move to other countries. They are still making great profits.”

On Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabry Yacoub He said His government is “deeply concerned” about this issue and “takes very seriously the plight of Malaysians who are stranded in many countries such as Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia”. The prime minister also encouraged Malaysians to be “wary of job offers abroad”.

Last month, Kheng, Cambodia’s interior minister, said in a statement The Cambodian government rescued 865 foreign victims between January 1 and August 20, and referred 60 people for trial.

“On behalf of the Royal Government and the National Anti-Trafficking Committee, I deeply regret and strongly condemn these inhumane acts,” he wrote. “I therefore appreciate and welcome any information from individuals, diplomatic missions and foreign embassies in Cambodia regarding the above cases.”

Cambodia’s increased efforts to crack down on human trafficking come just several weeks after the US State Department lowered Cambodia in its annual “Human Trafficking” report, released in July.

That document concludes that the Cambodian government “has not investigated or criminally held any officials implicated in the vast majority of credible reports of collusion, particularly with unscrupulous business owners who have subjected thousands of men, women and children across the country to human trafficking in recreational establishments and brick kilns. and online scams.

Virak O, founder and chair of Future Forum, a Cambodian think tank, said the government in Phnom Penh is now facing a “foreign relations nightmare”.

“I don’t think the Cambodian government understands the scale of the fraud and the other harsh reality of trafficking and money laundering that is happening,” he said in a text message.

Thirarith Chan contributed to the Khmer translation.



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