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28 survivors of forced scamming now home in Indonesia

October 2023

28 survivors of forced scamming in Cambodia were repatriated to Indonesia earlier this month, with assistance from IJM, the Embassy of Indonesia, the Cambodian National Police and other organisations.

Budi*, one of the survivors, travelled from Indonesia to Cambodia believing he was taking a job in online gaming. But he soon realized he had been deceived. His passport was confiscated upon arrival at the compound, leaving him with no means of escape.

Budi suffered physical abuse from his supervisor: "He slapped me very hard,” said Budi. “I [also] got punished by [being forced to] stand on one foot under the sun for around 6 hours."

Andi*, another survivor, shared that he was forced to work for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Andi was also beaten by the same supervisor.

In June, a partner of IJM in Indonesia received information about a group of Indonesian citizens who were being forced to work at scamming compounds. It was suspected that they had been trafficked into Cambodia.

They reported the case to the Embassy. After an extensive search, the Cambodian National Police located the victims. Two days later, 28 people were brought to safety.

IJM Cambodia and Caritas International provided vital aftercare to the survivors, including counselling, interpretation services, and food and amenities.

The Embassy made arrangements for their repatriation back to Indonesia in coordination with Indonesia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, IJMI Foundation, and other partners.

Budi has filed a case against the trafficker, with support from IJMI Foundation and partners. Indonesian authorities will continue to pursue the case, ensuring that the criminals involved are brought to justice.

“Together with partners in Indonesia, we will provide aftercare services to the survivors including legal assistance to ensure survivors obtain justice and perpetrators are convicted.

“We hope that the survivors get their rights, and the perpetrators can get the appropriate punishment so there will be no more human trafficking and online scamming in Indonesia and other countries,” said Mia Marina, the Executive Director of IJMI Foundation.

This case highlights the importance of international cooperation and the ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking in Cambodia and Indonesia.

By working together, governments, NGOs, and stakeholders can make significant strides in bringing traffickers to justice and protecting victims.

Don't miss the new BBC documentary 'Hunting the Catfish Crime Gang' with James Blake featuring IJM's frontline work to stop forced scamming, airing 9pm, Monday 23rd October.

*Pseudonym. Image does not depict real survivors.

You might also be interested in…

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Meet Ridwan*, a passionate advocate for an end to forced scamming. Ridwan has shared his story across the Philippines and Indonesia, including at the Philippine Senate and the Indonesia Anti Trafficking Gathering.

Now he wants to share his story with you: “Hopefully, no more Indonesian citizens will be trapped like me.”

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Forced scamming: "I was scared for my life."

Gavesh* from South Asia, whose story is featured in the new BBC Three documentary 'Hunting the Catfish Crime Gang', shares in his own words how he was tricked, trafficked, trapped – and eventually found freedom.

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