Human traffickers use social media to lure job seekers to Cambodia

January 10, 2022 - 10:49
After arriving in Cambodia, these jobs turn out to be fictitious. Instead, they are forced to repay their debts, often through sex work.


Since the beginning of 2021, Hà Tiên Border Station guards have rescued more than 200 Vietnamese citizens who were lured to Cambodia for work. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Human traffickers in Việt Nam are finding ever more inventive ways to lure potential victims overseas for exploitation. Through social media networks like Facebook or Zalo, they are offering well-paid jobs at casinos or online games in Cambodia, before springing their trap.

After arriving in Cambodia, these jobs turn out to be fictitious. Instead, they are forced to repay their debts, often through sex work.

In only the past week, police in Đồng Nai Province arrested three people suspected of being involved in organising human trafficking to Cambodia for prostitution activities.

The suspects are Nguyễn Tiến Dũng, 24, from the central province of Hà Tĩnh; Lộc Thị Luân, 21, from central province of Nghệ An and Ngô Nguyễn Đông Khoa, 53, from HCM City.

Dũng admitted to police that he recieved VNĐ10 million (US$448) for each person he sent to Cambodia to work. Khoa picked up his victims in HCM City and took them to the border with Cambodia. He would then instruct them to illegally cross the border and enter Cambodia.

Within the last month, the three are suspected of trafficking more than a dozen Vietnamese women to work in prostitution at karaoke and massage establishments in Cambodia.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Võ Nhật Hồng Phúc, Dũng was the head of the human trafficking ring. The ring publicised job adverts on social media networks such as Facebook or Zalo to attract young people looking for jobs.

They lured the victims to Cambodia with promises of leisurely work with high salaries ranging from several tens of millions to hundreds of millions of Vietnamese đồng. They used a car to pick up the victims and then took them to the border gate area in ​​Long An Province and Tây Ninh Province. The victims were then unofficially taken to Cambodia.

On December 28, Đồng Nai Province police also arrested three men and a woman for their involvement in human trafficking, organising illegal migration and bringing persons abroad for prostitution. 

A victim, named only as D, reported that in early April 2021 she was offered a job at a karaoke parlour and restaurant with a monthly salary of VNĐ80-100 million ($3,400-4,300).

When she arrived in Cambodia, the job failed to meet her expectations. 

In mid-June, D and some other victims managed to escape and they contacted the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia for support. 

A police investigation unearthed evidence that the four suspects brought nearly a dozen Vietnamese women aged 18-25 to Cambodia between January and June 2021, forcing them to serve guests at sex shops, karaoke bars, and massage parlours.

According to a representative of Hà Tiên Border Station, from the beginning of 2021 until now, the station officers have rescued more than 200 Vietnamese citizens from Cambodia. The victims were lured to Cambodia to work in companies, game establishments, entertainment services and companies in Congpongsom.

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Đức Việt, deputy head of the Border Guard Station of Hà Tiên International Border Gate, said in many cases the victims were deceived. 

Some victims wanted to escape from their employers but failed, Việt said. Some were injured jumping from buildings in a bid for freedom.

“The women were promised work in game establishments and companies, but were sold to disguised prostitution facilities,” Việt said.

“If the victims’ health was not good enough to work, the employers force them to use methamphetamine,” he added.

A 30-year-old male worker, who was rescued from an establishment in Sihanoukville, said he could not believe that he was still alive to return to Việt Nam.

The 30-year-old man was a victim of labour exploitation. He came to Cambodia to find work, but was locked up and handcuffed all the time. He slept hung from the roof as he was not allowed to sit or stand.

“I did not know who to call for help,” he said, adding that at that time, he just thought about how to survive rather than how to return to Việt Nam.

He was rescued alongside eight other Vietnamese young men and women. They are from Hà Nam, Nam Định and Hải Dương provinces. 

They said they were friends in the countryside and together went to Cambodia to find work, through social media recruitment ads. They were promised a monthly salary of VNĐ30-40 million besides accommodation. 

However, they worked for a long time without being paid. Once they asked for payment, they were handcuffed and deprived of food. It was only thanks to the kindness of a guard that they managed to contact the outside world and were rescued. — VNS