Indian Government Rescues 250 Citizens Trapped in Cyber Fraud Scams in Cambodia

Indian Government Rescues 250 Citizens Trapped in Cyber Fraud Scams in Cambodia

In a proactive move to combat cyber-fraud exploitation, the Indian government has successfully rescued 250 of its citizens who were ensnared in illicit online schemes in Cambodia. According to statements from India's foreign ministry, these individuals were coerced into engaging in illegal cyber activities after being promised legitimate employment opportunities.

Reports indicate that over 5,000 Indians found themselves trapped in Cambodia, compelled to partake in various cyber-fraud endeavors. The victims, primarily young and technologically proficient, were deceived into undertaking activities ranging from money laundering to orchestrating elaborate romance scams.

The issue extends beyond India, with hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide falling prey to human traffickers orchestrating job scams across Southeast Asia. Disturbing statistics from a UN report in August 2023 revealed that a staggering 120,000 people in Myanmar and 100,000 in Cambodia were coerced into operating cyber-fraud schemes.

This rescue operation is part of a broader effort to combat such exploitation in the region. Earlier interventions include the dismantling of scam centers in the Philippines and the repatriation of victims from Myanmar by the Chinese authorities.

Randhir Jaiswal, spokesperson for India's foreign ministry, emphasized the collaborative efforts between Indian and Cambodian authorities to apprehend those responsible for orchestrating these fraudulent schemes. India has already rescued 75 individuals in the past three months, with ongoing efforts to secure the release of others still trapped.

The scale of the exploitation is distressing, with victims in India collectively losing at least 5 billion rupees ($59 million; £47 million) over the past six months due to these scams. The Indian Express newspaper reported that the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh has received 130 complaints of Indian nationals being held against their will in Cambodia, with victims coerced into perpetrating scams or posing as law enforcement officials to extort money.

Stephen, one of the rescued individuals, recounted his harrowing experience of being recruited from Mangaluru, India, under false pretenses of a data entry job in Cambodia. Instead, he was compelled to create fake social media profiles and engage in fraudulent activities.

The Indian government's swift action highlights the urgency of addressing the pervasive issue of cyber-fraud exploitation in Southeast Asia. As efforts intensify to dismantle these criminal networks and protect vulnerable individuals, collaboration between nations remains crucial in combating such heinous crimes.

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