Hong Kong police arrest five recruiters for human trafficking jobs scam
Sundaily News in HoHong Kong police have arrested five people who recruited Hongkongers in job scams with victims eventually being held by human traffickers in Southeast Asia.
As of yesterday, 36 victims have sought help from police, including 32 men and four women aged between 19 and 57.
And 22 are believed still being held by traffickers in Cambodia and Myanmar while nine remain missing.
Only one of the 36 cases was related to a cyber love scam. The others were all job scams.
Three days after a special task force was formed on Friday, police said yesterday the three men and two women were arrested for conspiracy to defraud.
“Five suspects are between 17 to 51, with two men believed to be key members to push other suspects to control the victims,” senior superintendent of Organized Crime and Triad Bureau Tony Ho Chun-tung said. “And one woman was confirmed to have posted spam employment advertisements online.”
The “key members” are a 23-year-old healthcare student named Cheung and a 30-year-old jobless man named Ma.
The the 27-year-old woman, named Shum, was found to have posted spam job ads in different job-hunting groups on Facebook with an account name of CiCi.
The youngest of the arrested, a 17-year-old named Wu who claimed to be a hairstylist, was sent to Tuen Mun Children’s and Juvenile Home yesterday afternoon.
Most of the victims were held and lost their freedom and a few were beaten by traffickers.
Ho said the victims were mostly lured to work in casinos or construction sites in Southeast Asia. They were subjected to inhumane treatment if they refused the job offers or failed to meet a quota.
He said some victims managed to escape with the help of Chinese embassies in Myanmar and Cambodia while others were released after paying a ransom.
Ho admitted to difficulties for the police to collect evidence overseas while urging people to be wary of “unrealistic job opportunities.”
Apart from posting anti-scam advertisements on Facebook, the police also issued huge LED screen advertisements in busy streets in Mong Kok and the airport departure hall. Officers have also been handing out leaflets at the airport to remind Hongkongers not to fall into trafficking traps.
The Immigration Department on Saturday set up a new WhatsApp hotline – 5190-8909 – for cases related to Southeast Asia job scams.
Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung yesterday called on people not to abuse the hotline as only four of the 84 calls and 52 messages the hotline received were related to job scams.
If people were requesting services from the Immigration Department, he said, “they can use other non-emergency ways so we can focus on those WhatsApp calls related to job scams.”
A victim’s family told the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong that a middle-aged relative was tricked by an online recruitment ad and was sent to “KK Park” a month ago. “KK Park” is a human trafficking hotspot in Myanmar’s Kayin State and allegedly involved in organ harvesting and sex trafficking.
The man could contact his family daily but was being monitored, and he had seen other Hongkongers in KK Park including one of his secondary schoolmates.
“He said he has been forced to work more than 10 hours a day,” said Wu Cheuk-him from the DAB’s Tai Po Branch who received the request for help. “If he didn’t perform well he wouldn’t be given enough food.”
Legislator Gary Chan Hak-kan of the DAB quoted a family member of the victim saying the man went to Thailand after seeing a job advertisement on Facebook. He met one of the fraudsters face-to-face to collect a flight ticket and details of accommodation.
But once he arrived in Thailand, he was forced to get in a car and was sent to KK Park.
The DAB urged SAR authorities to work with the Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong in rescuing victims, and for the police to trace flight information and social media in arresting other traffickers in the SAR.
The Chinese embassy in Cambodia said in a statement over the weekend it “will, as always, provide timely and efficient services to all Chinese citizens in Cambodia, including Taipei compatriots, in accordance with laws and regulations.” The Standard.com2022-08-31 19:27:01