Sunday, April 14, 2024

Indian Govt Rescues 250 Citizens Trapped In Cambodia Forced Into Cyber-Slavery

A massive cyber fraud operation targeting Indians in Cambodia has emerged, with an estimated Rs 500 crore stolen in six months. 

Over 5,000 Indian nationals are reportedly being held against their will and forced to participate in the elaborate scheme. 

A high-level meeting was convened immediately, bringing together officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity), the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), and security experts to formulate a rescue strategy.

“The agenda of their meeting was to discuss the organized racket and bring back those who are trapped there. Data shows that Rs 500 crore has been lost (to cyber fraud originating in Cambodia) in India in the last six months,”.

250 Citizens Trapped In Cambodia

They also added that the agents target victims, mainly from southern India, with offers of data entry jobs.  

Once in Cambodia, passports are confiscated, and victims are compelled into cyber fraud, including impersonating law enforcement for extortion.

On December 30, The Rourkela Police in Odisha arrested eight people who facilitated travel to Cambodia.  

According to Dr. Arathi Krishna, Deputy Chairman of the Non-Resident Indian Forum of the Government of Karnataka (NRIFK), three Karnataka residents trapped in a Cambodian cyber fraud scheme have been rescued with the help of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Family members alerted NRIFK about the struggle. 

Lured by promises of data entry jobs, the men were forced to participate in cyber scams. 

Dr. Krishna commended the collaborative effort between NRIFK, the MEA, and the Indian embassy in securing their release. 

The rescued individuals estimate that around 200 others from the region are still trapped.

Stephen, one of the rescued men, explained the ordeal-

An agent in Mangalore offered him a seemingly legitimate IT job in Cambodia. 

Stephen and his companions were tricked with fake tourist visas and deceptive interviews.

“We had to create fake social media accounts with photographs of women sourced from different platforms. But we were told to be careful while picking these photos. So a South Indian girl’s profile would be used to trap someone in the North so that it did not raise any suspicion. We had targets and if we didn’t meet those, they would not give us food or allow us into our rooms. Finally, after a month and a half, I contacted my family and they took the help of some local politicians to speak to the embassy,” said, Stephen.

Rourkela Sub Divisional Police Officer Upasana Padhi explained the agents’ tactics. 

They lured men with job prospects and then forced them to work for fraudulent companies upon arrival.

Passports were confiscated, and victims were subjected to 12-hour workdays under the threat of violence.  

Authorities are actively identifying and working to repatriate more victims.

Padhi revealed details of the scams, which also involved cryptocurrency and fake stock investments facilitated by fraudulent online platforms.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) addressed media inquiries concerning Indian nationals facing difficulties in Cambodia. Spokesperson Shri Randhir Jaiswal provided a statement

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