Malaysian job scam victim finally home after three-month ordeal in Cambodia
KOTA KINABALU - A 28-year-old Malaysian job scam victim can finally heave a sigh of relief after spending a hellish experience being forced to work for a syndicate carrying out a number of cheating activities in Cambodia.
The man, who wished to be known only as Eric, landed safely in his home state of Sabah on Tuesday (Sept 27), some three months after falling for a job scam that convinced him he could earn large sums of money.
Eric claimed that during his ordeal, he was beaten with wooden sticks and belts whenever he refused to cooperate with syndicate members.
He also claimed to have seen other victims being tortured with electric prods if they failed to reach their "sales target".
Speaking to reporters through an interpreter, Eric, a father of two young children, said his ordeal started when he was selling stationery in Miri in June.
A purported Sarawakian he had known for about six months asked him if he was interested in making a quick buck by simply opening three bank accounts for some people in Thailand.
"He told me I could easily earn US$5,000 for each bank account I agreed to open but I didn't need to know what they were using the accounts for," he told reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport here.
He said he jumped at the idea as he wanted the money to set up his own business.
Eric was aware of news that people had fallen for job scams in Cambodia but since the offer was to be in Thailand, he did not think much of it.
He then flew to Kuala Lumpur from Miri and was supposed to fly to Thailand on June 18. But the destination on the plane ticket purchased on his behalf turned out to be Cambodia.
"I was told (by the 'Sarawakian') that someone would pick me up from the airport in Cambodia and drive me to Thailand," he said, adding it all turned out to be a lie.
He was instead taken to a 13-storey building and forced to commit stock market scams, but resisted.
Eric said he was beaten up by syndicate members and kept in a room for about a week before being sold to another company, believed to be involved in call scams and fraud.
After that, he was sold to another company.
Somehow, he said, he managed to reach out to a friend back in Malaysia by text message and asked for help.
He used a mobile phone provided by the syndicate for carrying out their scams, mostly on people in China.
"The syndicate warned us to use (the phone) only for work, not to contact anyone from outside or for other purposes," he said.
The friend eventually shared the personal contact number of Phoong Jin Zhe, the DAP assemblyman for Luyang where Eric hails from.
On Aug 9, Eric contacted Phoong, who then got in touch with one of the victim's family members who lodged a police report.
The Malaysian consulate office in Cambodia and Interpol were also asked for assistance.
At the same time, Phoong said he also reached out to a Foreign Ministry officer in Wisma Putra and provided details of Eric’s situation and location.
"The gentleman in Wisma Putra was very professional. He was (assigned) by the ministry to handle such cases and asked me for more details.
"He then passed the information to the Malaysian consulate in Cambodia," Phoong said.
On Sept 19, Phoong received a text from Eric saying that enforcement authorities in Cambodia had raided the building.
He then asked a friend to buy a flight ticket for him to Kuala Lumpur where he met Phoong on Saturday (Sept 24).
"I just want to get some rest now and spend time with my children," said Eric.
"I suffered a lot during this torturous time." - THE STAR