2 Malaysian Boys Released After Being Duped By Myanmar Scammers
In an increasingly globalised world, moving overseas for work has become fairly common these days. This is especially so if a job offer is attractive enough to warrant such a move.
But two teens in Malaysia fell prey to the tactics of a human trafficking syndicate in Myanmar when they came across some lucrative job ads on social media.
They were made to work as love scammers but failed to meet their targets.
Begging to be let go, they returned home after their families paid a ransom for their release — three months after their ordeal began.
Malaysian boys fall for job ads placed by Myanmar scammers
The two boys from Bera, Pahang, had come across job ads on Facebook and Instagram that promised them S$1,578 (RM5,000) and S$2,209 (RM7,000) to work as customer service officers, reported The Star.
The 15-year-old victim said he found the salary stated in the job ads “highly appealing” as he wanted more freedom.
He was then brought to Myanmar and kept at a compound in Marwadi.
He recounted the ordeal at a press conference organised by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (25 Jun).
He only realised that he had been duped by the scam syndicate when he was forced to work as a love scammer for 12 hours a day.
Made to work 12 hours a day at guarded compound in Myanmar
According to Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the 15-year-old, known as Lao, had to call people from all over the world to lure unsuspecting victims into a love scam organised by the scam syndicate.
He was taken to a village in south-eastern Myanmar on 22 Mar and made to connect with foreigners from noon to midnight.
When he realised what his job entailed, he was terrified and wanted to leave, he recalled at the press conference.
But he said all trafficked victims like himself were not allowed to leave. The compound was guarded by heavily armed individuals.
Lao was given a food allowance of S$284 (RM900) and stayed in a room with five other Malaysian and Chinese nationals.
He said he saw about 200 other Malaysians there, many of whom were young girls.
Begged scammers in Myanmar to let them go
About a week into the job, Lao failed to meet the quota. He begged the scam syndicate to let him go. They refused, saying a ransom had to be paid.
FMT quoted him saying, “During my one week there, I was worried that I would be beaten because I failed to fulfil my quota. But because I was young, I was spared … the others weren’t so lucky.”
On 28 Mar, a 14-year-old named Gan, joined the compound. Both of them could not meet the quota.
So they begged the ‘bosses’ to let them go in exchange for a ransom, reported The Star. According to Mr Chong, the captors had initially demanded S$62,778 (RM198,951).
The Star reported that Mr Chong said the scammers felt pressured by the media coverage over the two boys they had trafficked, so they decided to get rid of them quickly. After some negotiation over the phone, FMT said they lowered the amount to S$3,155 (RM10,000).
After receiving the ransom, the two boys were released on 2 Apr and taken to the Thai-Myanmar border near Mae Sot river, where they were assisted by Mr Chong’s contacts.
They spent three weeks at a Bangkok immigration centre, then released after the Malaysian embassy in Thailand processed their documents. They finally reached Malaysia on Friday (24 Jun).
Mr Chong said he had received reports of about 78 Malaysians duped by such syndicates. So far, 15 victims have returned home, but eight are still imprisoned in Cambodia.
After his harrowing ordeal, Lao advised the public,
Be careful and don’t trust everything you see online.
Always pays to be cautious
As the adage goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t real.
Scammers are adept at using attractive job offers or deals to entice potential victims, so always check and verify before you act.
We are glad the two boys managed to return home safely, and hope the rest will be rescued by the authorities soon.
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Featured image adapted from The Star.
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