When posting job information on Facebook, Yu Tang met a woman and was invited to go abroad to work as a telephone operator for online game support.
Tang Yu, a young woman living in Taipei, said the Taiwanese woman contacted her via Facebook in April about job opportunities in the online gaming and casino industries overseas. Seeing her skepticism, the woman promised to pay for the return flight if she wasn’t satisfied, and even offered to meet in person to negotiate.
“I don’t believe them, but we made an appointment to meet publicly,” she said. The man who showed up at the meeting looked completely “normal”.
The young girl agreed to take the job and was taken to the airport, where she met many people just like her. They flew to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The group who greeted them called themselves “travel agencies, but they looked like gangsters,” Yu said.
In the name of making a sim card, Yu’s passport was left, but it was not returned.
“We suspected we were being sold at the time,” Yu said. “I know if I want help, I need a SIM card.”
Yu said Cambodia’s management team had deleted all data from the phone with the broker’s conversation. Yu and his companions were taken to the casino in Sihanoukville.
Here, the management team announced that they had to join a VoIP scam, and if they wanted to be free, they had to pay $17,000. Yu said one protester was knocked unconscious, electrocuted and remains on the missing Taiwanese list.
Yu managed to get hold of a SIM card and started looking for information related to human trafficking. She tried to contact local politicians for help via Facebook.
The next day, police and officers went to the casino to pick her up. Yu Tang accused the casino owner of offering to pay the police to “pretend nothing happened,” but they refused. She was rescued and brought back to Taiwan.
Police in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam are conducting massive operations to rescue victims and crack down on traffickers.
Taiwanese police say hundreds of Taiwanese are victims of detention and forced labor in Southeast Asia’s VoIP scam network.
Triad-linked human-trafficking gangs specialize in using social media to lure young people to work in Southeast Asia, promising accommodation and high-paying jobs in places like Cambodia and Thailand. Lan…when they arrive, they often have their passports confiscated and sold to other groups.
Taiwanese officials say nearly 5,000 Taiwanese who have traveled to Cambodia have not returned so far. Taiwanese police have confirmed that at least 370 people have been forcibly arrested.
A much larger number of Taiwanese are still trapped in Cambodia, Yu Tang said, who said she saw at least 50 people held in the same office and other similar buildings where she was taken. Many were forced to sign contracts to bypass the authorities if someone came to inquire about their residency status.
“The longer they live in fear, the more frightened they become,” she said.
After returning to Taiwan, she regularly communicated with the families of the victims and potential victims who hoped to be rescued, and cooperated with the police. So far, Yu has helped 8 people return to Taiwan.
At least 46 people have returned to Taiwan in recent months. Some reported being forced into contracts, beaten, raped, starved and often threatened by themselves or others.
The trafficking gangs are mainly Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Thais and Cambodians, they said.
News of the human-trafficking ring has flooded Asian newspapers in recent weeks. A shocking video last week of dozens of Vietnamese jumping into a river to flee a casino on the Cambodian border. One victim drowned while swimming across the river to escape.
Taiwanese police said they had arrested at least 67 people linked to human trafficking gangs, with 16 suspects arrested on Aug. 22 on suspicion of participating in a criminal gang.
Authorities in Taiwan have also stepped up patrols at international airports, looking for and warning those coming to Cambodia of the risk of labor fraud.
The Hong Kong government has also set up a task force to find and help victims of human trafficking. Last week, SWAT officers arrested five suspects. China announced it had coordinated with Cambodian authorities to rescue 60 people, some of whom were forced into sex slavery.
An Giang police also uncovered four human-trafficking gangs operating in multiple provinces and cities, colluding with associates in Cambodia to bring Vietnamese into illegal labor casinos. Agencies are coordinating investigations and addressing these issues thoroughly.
General Chhay Sinarith, deputy head of the Cambodian National Police, said authorities had cracked down on many online scams targeting foreign workers, arresting hundreds of Chinese and Taiwanese.
Cambodia’s interior minister announced over the weekend the launch of a nationwide campaign to check the status of foreigners working or staying in hotels, rental properties and casinos to combat human trafficking.
Hong Han (follow guardian)