In the News

In Thai villages, Chinese gangs recruit desperate for phone scams

Apr 13, 2022 Aljazeera

Thai police say they have rescued some 700 Thais held against their will by Chinese gangs in Cambodia.

Bangkok, Thailand – The brokers arrived with promises of high-paying online sales jobs in Poipet, a Cambodian border town just an hour’s drive from Teerapat and Dao’s home in eastern Thailand.

After more than two years of pandemic-induced poverty, Teerapat and Dao were willing to take virtually any work away from their remote, rural village.

But by the next day, the couple began to realise they had made a terrible mistake.

After being driven deep across the border to the crime-ridden Cambodian beach town of Sihanoukville, Teerapat and Dao allege that they were ordered to stay inside a guarded 12-storey compound where Chinese “bosses” laid out their instructions via an interpreter.

Their “job” quickly revealed itself as a scam, according to interviews with the pair and corroborating police information.

Instead of online sales, Teerapat and Dao say they were directed to make unsolicited phone calls posing as customs officers, policemen or potential investors looking to secure a bank transfer.

The couple allege they were each expected to scam at least 500,000 baht ($15,000) every month along with dozens of others at the compound, all the while facing the threat of being sold to another gang if they failed to make the numbers.

“I normally don’t trust people easily,” Teerapat told Al Jazeera, speaking under an alias for fear of reprisals…