Over 100 Indian workers were rescued from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia after they were lured by agents for fake job opportunities in the information technology sector in Thailand, the Centre said on Friday. The Indian authorities have urged people to be alert and exercise caution about dubious job offers. Addressing media in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said some fraudulent IT companies appear to be engaged in digital scamming and forged cryptocurrencies and the Indian workers were held captive and forced to commit cyber fraud.
“Nearly 50 workers have been brought back to India from Myanmar, while some others were still in Myanmar police custody for questioning because they illegally entered the country without visas,” he added. Bagchi further said that 80 other Indian workers have been rescued from Cambodia and Laos.
An ANI report quoted Bagchi as saying that Indian embassies in Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Bangkok have been helping in repatriation of Indian nationals stuck in Laos and Cambodia in similar job rackets. The companies appear to be operating through agents in Dubai, Bangkok and some Indian cities and were recruiting Indian workers through social media advertisements for fake highly lucrative jobs in Thailand, the MEA spokesperson said, adding, “Many of the workers were taken illegally across the border into an area of Myanmar that is difficult to access because of the local security situation.”
This comes days after Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and informed him about the 300 Indians, including around 50 Tamils from the state, were being held captive in Myanmar. Recently, 13 more Indians were rescued from such job scams and last month 32 Indians were rescued in Myanmar following joint efforts by Indian missions in Myanmar and Thailand.
Global job scam
Citizens of other countries in the region have suffered in similar scams. On Thursday, 21 Malaysians rescued from human traffickers in Cambodia and Laos returned home. Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the government has now rescued 273 people out of 401 reported missing in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Most have returned except for 60 still in immigration detention centres in those countries who are waiting to be processed, he said.
A UN envoy has said the scam networks, which often have links to transnational organised crime, are set up in countries with weak law enforcement, attracting educated young workers with promises of high earnings. The workers are then subject to isolation and the threat of violence unless they succeed in cheating victims reached by phone into transferring payments into overseas bank accounts.