Forced scamming is one of the most complex and fastest-growing forms of modern slavery in the world.
Criminals use social media platforms to falsely advertise lucrative jobs with good salaries and ideal working conditions. Traffickers will frequently arrange whatever accommodations are necessary to make the offer too good to refuse. When the victims arrive, perpetrators confiscate their passports, identification documents and cellphones to prevent them from leaving or calling for help. They are not allowed to leave and are frequently abused and beaten.
While Cambodia has initially emerged as a primary hotspot, exploitation has also been reported in Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. Some experts suggest that the industry may be twice as large in Myanmar as in Cambodia, with criminal groups finding cover behind the country’s political and economic instability.
Fake, white-collar jobs are advertised with salary offers that are hard to turn down. Qualified individuals, some educated and multilingual, start out with high hopes only to find themselves trapped.
Likely hundreds of thousands of workers enslaved regionally in the scamming industry.
From official estimates and witness testimonies, IJM estimates that over $16B CAD is generated from this new form of trafficking every year in Cambodia alone.
A Proven Community Protection Model
Forced labour within criminal industries is difficult to detect and eradicate and many local governments lack the resources or knowledge to enforce the law. When traffickers experience no consequences, they can freely exploit and abuse vulnerable people.
But when perpetrators face accountability for their actions, crimes are significantly reduced. The result? Safer communities where people can expect to be safe from exploitation and forced labour slavery.
IJM helps combat this crime in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Our program office proactively coordinates with local government agencies and foreign embassies to help facilitate the rescue and repatriation of victims, seek accountability for perpetrators and connect with partners to provide legal and psychosocial support.
IJM has helped remove, care for, and/or support victim identification for over 200 individuals who we determined to be victims of forced labour slavery within Southeast Asia’s scam compounds.
Our team regularly engages with governments in the Asia Pacific region and around the world, UN Agencies, private sector companies, research agencies and civil society to share learning and find ways to coordinate and respond to this issue more effectively.
IJM in the News Around Forced Scamming
‘I was a slave’: Up to 100,000 held captive by Chinese cybercriminals in Cambodia
Source: LA Times
“Instead of getting fired for poor performance, you get physical punishments — forced push-ups and squats, tased, beaten, deprived of food, locked up in dark rooms or worse,” said Jacob Sims, country director for IJM Cambodia.
The gangs that kidnap Asians and force them to commit cyberfraud
Source: The Economist
“According to the Cambodian government, the syndicates employ between 80,000-100,000 foreigners—a reasonable but perhaps a conservative estimate", says Jacob Sims of IJM.
Human trafficking victim says he was forced to target Canadians in crypto investment scam
Source: CBC News
"Your typical profile is someone who probably speaks a couple of languages, is college-educated, probably is quite savvy with technology, with social media," said Jacob Sims. "They're out of work, they're seeking quite high-risk employment opportunities, so they are desperate."
From Industrial-Scale Scam Centers, Trafficking Victims Are Being Forced to Steal Billions
Source: VICE World News
“From what we are hearing, on average a worker in these compounds generates $300-400 per day in profit for their employer,” he told VICE World News... “What is going on inside these scamming compounds feels like a true humanitarian crisis.”
Help protect vulnerable men and women from forced scamming
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