13 Indians trapped in fake IT job racket rescued from Myanmar, reach Tamil Nadu
The external affairs ministry said some more Indian citizens have been rescued from fake employers but they are still in custody of Myanmar authorities for illegal entry. Instances of similar job rackets have also come to light in Laos and Cambodia
NEW DELHI: India said on Wednesday that 13 more of its nationals had been rescued from Myanmar after being lured there on the pretext of lucrative IT jobs, and the authorities were in touch with Laos and Cambodia to help repatriate more victims of similar scams.
The external affairs ministry issued an advisory on September 24 warning Indian citizens about fake job offers floated on social media platforms after more than 100 workers were lured to Myanmar by dubious IT firms. Last month, 32 Indian nationals were rescued from a remote part of Myanmar, where they were being forced to work in harsh conditions by firms engaged in digital scamming and forged crypto activities.
“We have been actively pursuing the case of Indians being trapped in fake job rackets in Myanmar. Thanks to the efforts of @IndiainMyanmar & @IndiainThailand, around 32 Indians had already been rescued. Another 13 Indian citizens have now been rescued, & reached Tamil Nadu today,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Bagchi said some more Indian citizens had also been rescued from “fake employers” and were in the custody of Myanmar authorities for “illegal entry into that country”. Legal formalities have been initiated to get them “repatriated at the earliest”, he said.
Instances of similar job rackets have come to light in Laos and Cambodia, and Indian embassies in Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Bangkok have been helping repatriate people from these countries, Bagchi said.
Details of agents allegedly involved in the job racket have been shared with authorities in various states for appropriate action. “We would reiterate extreme caution in accepting dubious employment offers overseas,” Bagchi added.
Reports in the US and Cambodian media in recent days have said there were a string of raids by Cambodian authorities in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville against cyber-criminal groups involved in what has come to be known as the “pig butchering” scam. The name is derived from the analogy of a farmer fattening up a hog before slaughtering it. The scam relies on convincing people to deposit more and more money into fake online platforms controlled by swindlers, the investigative journalism website ProPublica reported.
“Workers from around Asia are tricked into going to Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar for seemingly well-paid jobs that instead trap them inside scam sweatshops run by Chinese criminal syndicates. Those who resist directives to engage in online fraud face beatings, food deprivation or worse,” ProPublica reported.
Victims of the scam in the US, Canada and other countries lost huge amounts of money, sometimes more than a million dollars to fraudsters who convinced them to download a trading app called MetaTrader and deposit their savings in sham brokerages accessible via the app, according to the report.
Police raids in three Cambodian cities since mid-September have freed thousands of workers detained against their will. Cambodia’s VOD News cited figures from provincial police to report that raids in Sihanoukville during September 18-22 led to the release of 1,480 foreign nationals from India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The exact number of Indian nationals could not immediately be ascertained.
The Indian embassy in Cambodia tweeted on September 24 that 14 Indian nationals had been rescued from “human trafficking gangs”, and reiterated a warning that citizens intending to visit the country for employment or business should check the background of the firms offering jobs.
People familiar with the matter earlier said that Indian embassies in Myanmar and Thailand were in touch with some 50 Indians who sought help, though some reports have suggested that up to 300 Indian workers may have been illegally taken to the Myawaddy area in Myanmar to work for rackets engaged in call-centre scams and crypto-currency fraud.