Politics

Filipinos trafficked as crypto scammers in Cambodia

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SENATE.GOV.PH

FILIPINOS have been victimized into becoming online scammers by an alleged Chinese group operating in Cambodia, a senator reported on Wednesday.  

“Filipinos are becoming the main target of human trafficking syndicates,” Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement.

“After we helped some Filipinos in Myanmar who were abused and forced to work as crypto scammers, we find out that this method also exists in Cambodia,” she added. “These fraud factories are part of a disturbing industry that has to be dismantled.” 

Ms. Hontiveros earlier reported that Chinese syndicates have been trafficking Filipinos to Myanmar to scam foreigners into putting money into fake crypto accounts. 

Some of the victims sought help from the senator’s office. 

The senator’s office was able to speak with one of the victims from Cambodia who said that they were promised customer service or call center jobs but ended up being forced to dupe citizens from the United States and Cambodia. 

“When we are not able to get a client, we are made to work for more than 16 hours, without sleep, seven days a week… I saw and heard that an employee was even electrocuted,” the victim said in Filipino through a video shared with the media.

A group of Filipinos to which the victim belonged was rescued Monday evening by Cambodian police authorities and the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh. However, they are currently being held at a police station without beds and basic necessities. 

“I trust that our Department of Foreign Affairs can bring our kababayans home as soon as possible,” Ms. Hontiveros said. 

“I also expect that we keep closely working with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member-states to strategize how to effectively put a lid on these criminal activities,” she added. 

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines did not respond to a Viber message seeking comment on the alleged Chinese operators before the print deadline. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan