Seven Thai nationals who recorded a surreptitious livestream to say they had been tricked into working for scammers in Cambodia were rescued yesterday by Thai police.
Two men and five women – among the thousands of Thai nationals tricked into virtual slavery in recent years – were returned to Thailand on Wednesday after they pleaded for help in a Facebook livestream. The video showed all seven of them trapped inside a building in Bavet township in Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province.
They said that they were duped and forced to work as scammers. They added that they were held captive and could not escape to go home.
“Please share this. We’ve been trapped in Svay Rieng, Cambodia-Vietnam border. We’re forced to work from 8am to 11pm every day without a holiday,” one of the Thais said in a whisper during the livestream. “We’re forced to work and meet their quota … There are seven of us. Please share this, everyone.”
They said that they couldn’t escape because the premises were surrounded by an electric fence.
The livestream went viral online and caught the authorities’ attention. Police coordinated with the Thai and Cambodian embassies to rescue the seven Thais. They crossed the border to Aranyaprathet in Thailand and were taken to the Khlong Luek Police Station in Sa Keao province for further investigation, according to station chief Col. Rung Thongmont.
Of the seven, four were found to have traveled across the border legally but their passports were seized by the scammers. Three did not have passports and had entered Cambodia illegally.
Thousands of Thais have been lured abroad by false promises of work during the pandemic, according to Gen. Surachet Hakphan, who serves as deputy director of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force. Most of them face prosecution upon their return home by a dubious justice system.