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Online scamming operations: stopping new forms of trafficking in Cambodia

A new, shocking form of trafficking has emerged in Cambodia, in what the Guardian has called a 'cybercrime crisis'.

Right now, people are being deceived by false job offers and forced to conduct scams online for up to 20 hours a day, trapped in heavily guarded compounds.

The Cambodian government estimates that 80,000-100,000 workers are trapped in Cambodian scamming centres. In an interview with the Economist, IJM's Jacob Sims said this was "a reasonable but perhaps conservative estimate".

Ali*, a 33-year-old university graduate from Pakistan, was forced to scam five people daily and entice them to join cryptocurrency investment schemes or deposit money into gaming accounts.

“I tried to call and send an email to our embassy to report our whereabouts. I was not successful. The manager broke my phone, and I was physically beaten,” Ali explains.

After spending five months trapped in a secured building, Ali and six other workers were brought to safety by IJM and police.

IJM provided Ali and other survivors with food, basic necessities, and repatriation support.

“Going out from the compound was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – it was the best thing that happened to me,” said Ali.

Over the last 18 months, IJM has collaborated with Cambodian National Police and partners to bring more than 100 migrant workers like Ali to safety from online scamming operations.

We’ll continue responding to this emerging crime in 2023.

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