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By SecureWorld News Team
Wed | Apr 3, 2024 | 6:12 PM PDT

In a significant operation, the Indian government has successfully rescued 250 of its citizens who were trapped in Cambodia and coerced into running online scams. The victims were promised legitimate employment but were instead forced into illegal cyber activities, according to India's foreign ministry.

Recent reports suggest that more than 5,000 Indians in Cambodia were ensnared in similar circumstances, operating cyber-fraud schemes under duress. This alarming situation is part of a larger issue in Southeast Asia, where hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide have fallen victim to human traffickers running job scams.

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The victims, predominantly tech-savvy young people, are lured with job offers and subsequently forced into illegal online activities. These activities range from money laundering and crypto fraud to so-called romance scams, where they impersonate would-be lovers online.

A U.N. report from August 2023 stated that at least 120,000 people in Myanmar and another 100,000 in Cambodia were coerced into operating cyber-fraud schemes. This latest rescue operation follows a series of similar actions in Southeast Asia, including the rescue of hundreds from a scam center in the Philippines and the repatriation of Chinese citizens from scam centers in Myanmar.

India's foreign ministry spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, announced last week that India is working closely with Cambodian authorities to crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes. In the past three months alone, India has rescued 75 people, although the timeline for the remaining rescues remains unclear.

The Indian Express newspaper reported last week that India's embassy in Phnom Penh had received 130 complaints of Indians being held in Cambodia against their will. These individuals were among thousands forced to scam people in India or extort money by impersonating law enforcement officials.

The embassy reportedly receives four to five complaints daily from people trapped in Cambodia after being offered jobs. One of the rescued men, identified only as Stephen, shared his experience of being recruited by an agent from the southern Indian city of Mangaluru and offered a data entry job in Cambodia. Upon arrival, he was asked to create fake social media accounts and use them to contact people.