Crime & Courts

Single mum trapped by human trafficking syndicate, needs RM17,000 to secure release

KUANTAN: Tempted by a customer service job offer abroad that promised a lucrative salary, a 29-year-old single-mother jumped at the opportunity last year –- and came to regret it later.

The woman from Raub, who has a 5-year-old daughter, ended up being trafficked into Myanmar and the family has been instructed to pay RM17,000 for her release.

The victim's brother, who only wanted to be identified as Wong, said his sister, the third of four siblings, initially told the family that she had secured a job in Johor.

"She had befriended an individual on Facebook in September last year and that person had fetched her from Raub to work in Johor. However, my family could not contact her and we began asking her friends.

"In November, one of her close friends told us that my sister had taken up a customer service job offer in Thailand, but ended up becoming a job scam victim in Myanmar. We tried contacting her other friends to verify the information.

"On Dec 23, my sister texted my eldest sister through Facebook Messenger informing that she was being held in Myanmar and has been told to pay RM17,000 if she wants to return to Malaysia," he said at Semambu assemblyman Chan Chun Kuang's service centre here today.

Wong said the victim had texted the family through Facebook on four occasions, and the last time they communicated was on Jan 21.

"The first time my sister texted us was in December last year, saying she has to pay RM20,000 to the syndicate to secure her release. Several days later, she messaged saying the company will only allow her to return to Malaysia after working in Myanmar for about a year.

"During the third and fourth time, she mentioned about paying RM17,000 so that she could return to Malaysia. My sister told us that she was tricked into believing that the customer service job offer with a salary around RM5,000 was in Thailand, but ended up being taken by the syndicate to Myanmar.

"My sister texted us saying she took up the job offer after being promised a high salary.... She did not have proper education and needed to support her growing daughter, so she assumed the job would help her.

"Sadly, she has been forced to become a scammer with a target to achieve every week," he said.

When asked if the family is prepared to pay RM17,000, Wong said his family could not afford the amount. He was also worried that the syndicate would not release his sister after paying and demand more money instead.

"I just want my sister to be brought home safely. My parents and her daughter are worried thinking about her," he said.

Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation public relations officer Daniel Khoo said the family had contacted him to assist in bringing the woman home.

"I have reached out to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Myanmar to identify the victim's location. We hope the victim will contact her family to provide more details," he said.

Chan said the victim's family did not know when she left abroad as they lost contact with her on Sept 20 last year and had lodged a police report on Dec 23 in Raub.

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