Family Members of Job Scam Victims Protest at Laos Embassy in Malaysia

Activists gather at the gate of Laos Embassy in Malaysia to urge the Lao government to urgently rescue 700 Malaysian citizens stuck in Laos after falling prey to job scams. (Photo Credit: TheStar)

Around 700 Malaysian citizens are believed to be stuck in Laos after falling prey to scams that promised lucrative jobs and good money.

Those who have been rescued have spoken up about the harrowing conditions and how they would be physically harmed if they refused to work towards scamming even more people and getting them to join the syndicates. Some young Malaysian women were also forced into prostitution.

There is a growing concern among relatives of victims and activists that perpetrators have not been held accountable for their crimes, while the syndicates are reportedly offering large sums for the capture of those who manage to escape.

Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) secretary-general Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim says, “Due to the inhumane treatment received, the victims had lodged a police report in Laos. Unfortunately, insufficient and inefficient action from the authorities resulted in victims being stranded in Laos.”

“The fraud syndicate also demanded ransom money from the victim’s family that ranged from RM50,000 to RM100,000 to release the victims… Some of the victims were believed to be sold from one agent to another, from one company to another, or worse, traded between different countries.”

Hishamuddin, joined by Malaysia Community Crime Care president Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Semboyan Malaysia, and family members of those stuck in Laos visited the Laos Embassy in Kuala Lumpur this week to submit a memorandum to the embassy and urge the Laos government to rescue and repatriate the stranded Malaysians.

However, despite waiting for an hour, no one from the embassy met them to receive the memorandum. Hishamuddin had also sent an email to the embassy last week which went unanswered.

According to him, the Cambodian government has been proactive in rescuing victims of such crimes in their territory, while victims of scam syndicates operating in Laos and Myanmar have had less assistance.

“Please release our families. Just give them a free pass. Just let them come back home safely,” said one angry protestor in an interview with New Straits Times.

“We want them back, we want them safe!” she said.