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How Thousands Of Indians Were Lured, Trapped In Cambodia Cyber Fraud

New Delhi:

Sixty Indians, lured to Cambodia and forced into cyber fraud activities by trafficking gangs, have now been rescued by authorities. The Indian Embassy is working closely with their Cambodian counterparts to bring these individuals back home safely. 

The scam

Recent reports have shed light on a dangerous job scam that affected many, including over 5,000 Indians stranded in Cambodia, forced to carry out illegal cyber activities. According to government estimates, these fraudsters have allegedly duped people of at least Rs 500 crore in India over the past six months. 

These people were promised legitimate jobs. However, they were then manipulated into participating in unlawful online tasks, according to India’s foreign ministry. A BBC report also mentioned that those stuck in Cambodia were made to pose as law enforcement officers to extort money from Indians.

The scam is not limited to Cambodia but represents a larger issue across Southeast Asia. Traffickers deceive hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in the region. They mostly target young and tech-savvy individuals, offering enticing job opportunities, only to exploit them in a range of cyber fraud schemes, including money laundering and love scams. 

A UN report from August 2023 exposed the scale of this problem, revealing that 1.2 lakh people in Myanmar and 1 lakh in Cambodia were forced into cyber fraud. 

The scam came to light after the Rourkela Police in Odisha cracked down on a cyber-crime syndicate in December last year. Eight people were arrested for their alleged involvement in facilitating trips to Cambodia, authorities revealed.

Detailing the operation, an officer explained that the case came to focus after a complaint filed by a senior Central government official who had been defrauded of approximately ₹70 lakh.  

The rescue

In March, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) held a meeting with officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), and other experts to plan how to rescue the Indians trapped in Cambodia, according to an Indian Express report.  

Until now, 60 Indians trapped in Cambodia have been brought back to India.