A man in Binh Dinh Province tricked his close friend into becoming an illegal worker in Cambodia in order to avoid “being beaten” by his employer.
Huynh Thanh Nhon, from the central province’s capital town Quy Nhon, has been detained for four months by the police in Binh Dinh while he is under investigation for human trafficking.
The police said Nhon had cooperated with several people to traffic people into Cambodia to work against their will. Victims were not allowed to leave their workplaces, were beaten and left to starve for several hours. They were forced to pay money if they wanted to go back to Vietnam.
Nhon said he himself was a victim of human trafficking, who was tricked into going to Cambodia and work in precarious situations, unable to return to Vietnam due to his confinement.
He said he was introduced to a job by an unnamed man online in February last year. The man claimed the job’s salary was US$700-$1,000 a month. Nhon then traveled to HCMC as requested, where he was taken to his work site by a car. The people there then instructed him to create multiple online accounts to trick others into joining the group.
“After nearly two weeks, I realized I was in Cambodia and not Vietnam, because I was not allowed to go outside,” Nhon said.
“Every day, I had to work 16 hours and could only rest at night,” he said. “If I didn’t do my job properly, I would be beaten, left to starve, or sold to another place.”
A few months after he first arrived there, Nhon was sold to another company owned by Chinese people, and was forced to do the same job. He says he had to run cyber scams to make people into paying the company VND200-300 million ($8,396-$12,594) per month, or he would be forced to work overtime and see his salary reduced.
Nhon said he also had to trick people into joining the company, explaining that he was promised $100 for every person he recruited.
“In order to have money and not be starved and be beaten, I tricked three of my friends into coming here,” he said. “But I did not receive any money.”
In March 2022, Nhon told some of his friends through social media that he was “working on gaming apps on a computer in Tay Ninh (that borders Cambodia),” a job with a light workload and with a salary of VND17-VND24 million. He then persuaded his friends to join him.
An 18-year-old man, a close friend of Nhon’s, fell for the trap.
“When I realized I was tricked into going to Cambodia, I called Nhon and he said ‘It’s ok,’ before blocking me on the phone and social media,” the friend said.
He said he had to work 16-17 hours a day in an enclosed space. There were people armed with electric whips who were guarding him. They were willing to beat workers and left them to starve if they made any violation, or failed to trick other people into giving away their money.
In the eight months since he was sold to Cambodia, the 18-year-old got sold off to three different companies. In September 2022, he was ransomed by his family for VND80 million. Nhon’s family also paid a ransom for his release last year before being arrested by the police.
Truong Van Phung, deputy head of the Investigation Unit of Binh Dinh’s Police Department, said human trafficking groups often target young people who dropped out of school early and who were addicted to online games.
Vietnamese have been trafficked to Cambodia as illegal workers for years. The Vietnamese Embassy there said it has managed to repatriate 800 Vietnamese citizens back home from Cambodia so far.
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