Filipino Trafficking Victim in Cambodia Speaks up on Abuses of Chinese Crypto Scammer Bosses
10:00 JST, January 30, 2023
A Filipino who was trafficked to Cambodia and forced to work as a cryptocurrency scammer spoke up about her experiences and sufferings abroad.
A woman under the alias “Miles” reached out to the office of Senator Risa Hontiveros, which then shared a video of the victim’s interview on Jan. 18.
Miles arrived in Cambodia in October 2022, and returned to the Philippines on Jan. 16.
Miles, who was trafficked out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and into Thailand, said that victims first land in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries before traveling to Cambodia.
She worked for Chinese bosses in Kep Province in Cambodia, located on the boundary of Vietnam and Cambodia.
“When it comes to our working conditions, our office is on the lower floor and we have several cell phones for texting and finding clients, and we have our own PC. We do not have a problem with accommodation because it is upstairs. Our problem is food; we could not eat it,” she recalled.
Miles narrated that as cryptocurrency scammers, they send a “wrong” text to Americans, Canadians, and other nationalities. If they reply, the workers will socialize and eventually swindle them.
“There are three steps. First, you will talk about your life and your business. On the third day, you will share how you earn. You get more money until you lure them to invest in the platform,” she said.
At first, the victims were given a break from work. However, it was removed in December last year when they started to have fewer clients. They were made to work for 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
Miles said that another employee was even electrocuted. Hontiveros lamented the incident and is trusting the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to rescue Filipino victims in Cambodia.
“Filipinos are becoming the main target of human trafficking syndicates. After we helped some Filipinos who were abused and forced to work as crypto scammers in Myanmar, now we find out that there is a similar modus in Cambodia,” she said in a statement.
“I trust that our DFA can bring our kababayans [fellow Filipinos] home as soon as possible. I also expect that we keep closely working with ASEAN member states to strategize how to effectively put a lid on these criminal activities. It is unacceptable that this devastating scheme keeps roping in our hardworking men and women,” she went on.
Last year, the opposition senator revealed that a Chinese mafia was planning to lure Filipinos to form an all-Filipino scammer team in Myanmar, noting that Filipinos are chosen due to their English language proficiency.
The Department of Migrant Workers then said that they are looking into similar cases in Cambodia and Laos.
For Hontiveros, incidents of Filipinos being abused and taken advantage of in different countries may be linked to one another.
“Clearly, this is an industrial complex that involves various actors from around Southeast Asia and beyond. Criminals who abuse and take advantage of Filipinos who just want to find decent jobs may be connected to one another,” she said.
The senator then appealed to Filipinos to be vigilant against illegal recruiters. “Coordinate with POEA [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration] first before pursuing the job you see on social media. While we are working to solve the lack of livelihood in the Philippines, there should be a strong plan and process to curb human trafficking,” she said.
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