'I was given 2 options: Pay RM100,000 to redeem myself or find more victims' [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: A victim of human trafficking says he was given two choices if he wanted to leave the syndicate engaged in a job scam in Myanmar.

Recounting his experience, Abol (not his real name) was asked to pay a ransom of RM100,000 or recruit three more victims to be scammers.

The 27-year-old man was forced to become a scammer for nearly a month before escaping.

He said he was deceived into becoming a scammer last October after he was promised a monthly salary of RM20,000.

He said the lucrative earnings were the reason why he and a few other Malaysians were willing to go there without realising that they would become slaves to the fraud syndicate.

"I went to Myanmar in October last year, after they offered me RM8,000 to go to Thailand to buy ceremonial items for prayers, and they said they would cover the flight tickets, hotel, and all the expenses.

"I dealt with a local man over the phone… we never met," he said.

In Myanmar, Abol said, he was placed with eight other individuals in a room located in an industrial complex complete with grocery stores, restaurants, massage parlours, and entertainment centres.

According to him, the prices of goods in the grocery stores and restaurants in the complex were extremely high, up to three times more expensive than in Malaysia.

"We were instructed to find victims for investment scams or love scams, and we would be paid a salary every month that could be spent in the stores and entertainment centres within the syndicate's complex.

"We were free to move around within the complex but were not allowed to leave, and the location was heavily guarded by armed guards," he said.

Abol said the syndicate had a complete organisational structure and operated according to their respective departments, led by a man believed to be a Chinese national in his 50s.

He said each department had supervisors consisting of Chinese nationals, and there were also Malaysians who had been working there for a long time appointed as supervisors to ensure smooth operations.

"The Chinese boss was quite nice, but some of the Malaysian supervisors or team leaders themselves enjoyed bullying victims from Malaysia.

"If we didn't meet the target (number of victims deceived), we would be beaten, and the food cards used to buy food would be confiscated, so we had no choice but to do the job.

"They told me to scam people, but I couldn't bear it and wanted to return immediately, but they wouldn't let me go," he said.

He said he was given the option to be released either by paying RM100,000 or by trapping three more victims and turning them into scammers in order to redeem himself.

He said, with the help of the Malaysian Humanitarian Organisation (MHO), they devised a plan to escape from the heavily guarded premises.

Abol said he and five other friends monitored the situation around the complex for two weeks before daring to escape early one morning.

"We escaped to a shallow river and crossed into Thailand's border at midnight.

"Unfortunately, only three of us managed to escape, while the other three of our friends were caught trying to climb the fence," he said.

He said he finally managed to return to Malaysia in November last year, and the experience of being a slave to the fraud syndicate was unforgettable.

"I hope the public who receives job offers like this will be cautious and do thorough checks first. Don't rush to accept the offer," he said.

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