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Malaysian youths allegedly duped and trafficked to Cambodia

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR) - Several young Malaysians became victims of a human trafficking syndicate after being lured with telemarketing and customer service job offers in Cambodia and the promise of a lucrative pay.

The victims were either approached personally through contacts or social media advertisements. Once in Cambodia, they were forced to make calls to unsuspecting victims from their respective countries.

Some of the victims are physically abused if they do not perform and men armed with guns guard the building they are kept captive in.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said some of the victims including girls were underage and as young as 17.

However, he said there were no reports of sexual abuses so far.

“If you’re a Malaysian, you will be given a laptop to cheat Malaysians and if you don’t do well and could not scam anyone, you will be beaten up,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday (March 30).

Some victims, said Mr Chong, had been taken through illegal routes while some entered the country with proper documents.

He added that some of these victims had gone to the country without their parents' knowledge.

“I have already received more than 10 cases seeking my help but only two have been rescued. These two (victims) are in the immigration detention centre because they have overstayed and went there without proper documentation,” he said.

“The syndicate members are Malaysians, recruiting them either through social media or friends,” he said.

A mother, known only as Wong, said her 24-year-old son had told her that he was going to Penang to work at a hotel. However, a few days after arriving in Cambodia, he revealed the truth to her.

“He said he travelled there in a fully-tinted black car and he couldn’t see outside throughout the journey,” she said, adding that no stops were made until they arrived in Cambodia.

“He was so frightened and said the building was locked up and the entrance was guarded with gunmen and there was no way to get out of the building."

She said her son got a reference for the job from a friend who was younger than him. She said while he was not abused for not making any “sales”, his pay was deducted and he was “sold off” to another company.

Another father, who wanted to be known only as Ng, said his 18-year-old son was taken to the country through an illegal route (lorong tikus).

Mr Chong said he is working closely with the police to help the victims.

“Here, I have 10 victims who managed to call me. I think there are at least 100 victims,” he said, adding that he first received the message about two months ago.

The press was also shown voice messages, videos and text messages from victims. A victim said there were some 50 Malaysians held captive in the same premises as him.

Mr Chong said the Malaysian police are working with the Interpol and can only help those who lodged a report.

"Some victims or their family who are unaware of the situation have not lodged a report."

He urged victims who are able to run away to go to the embassy or the nearest Malaysian company in Cambodia to seek help.

Mr Chong said he has also written to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah on March 3 to seek his help to rescue those who have fallen prey to the syndicate.

He has yet to receive a response.

“I want young boys and girls to be extremely careful when you respond to job offers. They will promise you a very high pay but once you respond to themn you will get into trouble, especially those with overseas posts,” he said.

He advised job seekers to consult their family and friends before accepting offers, as the syndicate will ask them to not divulge the details to their next of kin.

He feared that the syndicates will be more active once the borders reopen.

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