Kenya and Taiwan Warn Citizens of Trafficking to Laos, Cambodia

Kenya and Taiwan have reported their citizens trafficked to Laos and other destinations in Southeast Asia to work at call center scam operations.
Kenya and Taiwan have reported their citizens trafficked to Laos and other destinations in Southeast Asia to work at call center scam operations.

Kenyans and Taiwanese are among the hundreds of people trafficked to Southeast Asia and forced to work for telecom scam networks based in Laos and Cambodia.

The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Thailand has issued an official warning to its citizens regarding the risks of such scams

The East African reports that the Kenyan government took action last week to rescue citizens trapped by phone scam networks in Cambodia and Laos, as well as in Myanmar and Vietnam, among others.

The Embassy warned of false advertisements for teaching jobs in Laos and Thailand, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia.

According to the embassy, a large number of young Kenyan women trafficked to Southeast Asia are forced into sexual exploitation, particularly in Myanmar.

“Once they [Kenyans] are in Thailand, local networks then whisk them illegally across the border to Myanmar, where they are received by armed rebels and taken to “textile factories” to engage in all manner of work, including money laundering under the watchful eyes of armed men and the managers of the factories,” the Kenyan embassy said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has sounded the alarm as well, with police forces launching rescue operations to rescue trafficked citizens.

Taiwanese nationals are among the large number of young Asian people lured by trafficking rings on social media and forced to work for telecom scam networks in the region.

Taiwan’s National Police Agency (NPA) has found based on a check of flight records that around 1,000 Taiwanese have traveled to Cambodia per month in recent months but only about 100 per month have returned.

It believes that about 2,000 Taiwanese human trafficking victims are still in Cambodia against their will, although the number could be as high as 5,000.

Alarm Bells Ring Around the World

Cambodia made headlines around the world last week when 42 Vietnamese workers fled from a casino in Kandal Province by swimming across a river to the southern Vietnamese province of An Giang.

The Chinese manager of the casino where the Vietnamese workers were being held captive has been arrested by Cambodian police, while Vietnamese police have identified four human trafficking rings involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, Thailand officially requested assistance from authorities in Laos in March this year to rescue a number of Thai nationals who had been trapped in Bokeo Province. The Governor of Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province, Phassakorn Boonyalak, reached out to the Lao Governor of Bokeo Province, leading to the rescue of 15 Thai nationals who had been forced to work at a scam call center located in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone.


Victims at Both Ends

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that Australians are scammed out of billions of dollars each year by call center operations located in Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia.

“The thing is, people on both ends are victims. The people who are forced to come in and do this, they’re being trafficked in, and then they’re forced to meet targets with respect to their victims,” explains Jason Tower, Myanmar country director at the United States Institute of Peace, who has conducted research into the rise of online scam centers and human trafficking rings across the region.

Trafficking of persons from faraway locations is not a new phenomenon in Laos, with young African footballers reportedly trafficked to Laos in 2015.