PUTRAJAYA: Job offers with high salaries – ranging from US$2,000 to US$4,000 (RM9,000-18,000) – in addition to lack of awareness about news developments are among the causes of hundreds of Malaysians being entangled with job scam syndicates in Cambodia.
According to Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Datuk Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, such job offers are usually spread through social media such as Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp.
He divided the victims into two categories – the first one being those with qualifications such as diploma, while the second one comprises young people aged 10 to 30 without qualifications.
“This first category will arrive in Cambodia, complete with a job offer letter as if from a real company; but after their arrival, they will be forced to work with a syndicate. However, this category has only a small number of victims (involving one or two cases).
“The second category has the most (number of victims) and they are usually uneducated or desperate because of economic problems, family problems, and so on. We see an increase in this trend after the Covid-19 pandemic because many people have lost their jobs, so syndicates take advantage,” he said in an interview with Bernama here.
On Friday, Eldeen Husaini accompanied Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah to bring back 24 victims, aged between 20 and 30.
Eldeen Husaini emphasised the role of family and friends to raise awareness to those who may be deceived by ridiculous job offers, considering that most of the victims who were found were not aware of the current issue.
“Although this issue has been widely reported in the media, most of them do not read the news and only look at social media, so family and friends also need to play a role,” he said.
Eldeen Husaini said that jobs usually offered – such as receptionists or marketing officers in hotels that have casino operations – do away with interviews or documentation processes.
Victims were eventually locked up and forced to work for an online gambling and fraud syndicate.
“If the victim has a passport, they will continue to fly there; and if there is no passport, like minors for example, they will offer to go there through rat trails at the border of Thailand and directly to Cambodia,” he said.
Throughout this year, he said 148 victims were reported to the embassy and 118 of them were successfully rescued, while the remaining 30 victims have yet to be found.
Regarding several viral videos showing victims being beaten and asking for ransom from their families, Eldeen Husaini explained that the incident did not involve Malaysians.
As a result of the investigation carried out by the embassy in collaboration with the Cambodian authorities, it was found that the videos involved Vietnamese and Chinese victims.
He added that the confusion regarding the hostage issue stemmed from a case involving Malaysians who were legally working in the country, but had to pay compensation to the company because they wanted to return to their homeland without completing the contract period.
“His family in Malaysia misunderstood and thought the company was asking for ransom and made a report to the NGO. When we investigated, he had actually signed a contract stating that if he did not complete the period, for example a year, he would have to pay a certain amount as compensation,” he explained.
Following international media’s extensive coverage of the issue, Eldeen Husaini said it is harder for the syndicate to move and is expected to be eradicated soon.
The Cambodian government, aided by the Chinese authorities, launched a massive operation to crush the syndicate.
“We are also in contact with the Ambassadors of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and so on, because this is a joint operation. Sometimes we go en masse to show solidarity.
“This has the effect of showing that this matter is important to us and that Cambodia is conducting a massive operation to protect their image,” he said.
Eldeen Husaini drew attention to several cases of Malaysians who were reportedly deceived by a job scam syndicate in Cambodia, but refused to return (to Malaysia) after being rescued.
“The victim had a family problem and ran away from home. The family gave us a name; and when the police conducted a raid, everyone would be arrested based on the name given.
“But the victim doesn’t want to go back and wants to continue working there. We can’t do anything because he has a valid passport and documents, so we ask the family to talk to him,” he said.
Eldeen Husaini also reminded Malaysians who want to work in Cambodia to register with the embassy for ease of monitoring in the event of emergencies.
Currently, there are about 500 Malaysian companies and almost 6,000 Malaysians working in Cambodia, and they are doing well. – Bernama