38 HONG KONG VICTIMS IN GROWING HUMAN-TRAFFICKING TREND, WITH SEVENTH SUSPECT ARRESTED OVER JOB SCAMS LURING PEOPLE TO SOUTH-EAST ASIA
Hong Kong authorities on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 received another call for help from a victim of a job scam luring city residents to Southeast Asia for forced labour, bringing the number of people affected by the growing human-trafficking crisis to 38.
Undersecretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip said 17 of the victims were confirmed as safe, of which 12 had returned home, including one who flew back from Thailand on Monday, August 22, 2022.
But 11 Hongkongers were still believed to be trapped in Myanmar and another 10 in Cambodia, Cheuk noted, adding also that a seventh suspect in the case had been arrested.
HOW HONGKONGERS WERE SCAMMED INTO TRAVELLING TO SOUTHEAST ASIA FOR FORCED LABOUR
" Our task force is in contact with the Chinese consulates through all channels," Cheuk told a radio programme on Tuesday morning.
" The organised crime and triad bureau has arrested seven people...One of them has been brought to court, and two others will enter legal proceedings. It is believed all of them belong to the same group."
Among the arrested, police said on Monday that a 23-year-old college student surnamed Cheung was a key syndicate member and was mainly responsible for liasing and controlling his subordinates to recruit victims.
Meanwhile, a special WhatsApp helpline created on Saturday by the Immigration Department has received more than 280 messages, of which only four are related to the current case. At least 20 were prank calls. sparking a warning from Cheuk not to abuse the hotline.
Cheuk said of the 38 requests for help, one centred on an online romance scam, clarifying that no case in Hong Kong involved tourists being kidnapped.
HONG KONG TO WORK WITH FOREIGN MINISTRY, INTERPOL AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Hundreds of people, including Hongkongers, Taiwanese and Malaysians, have been duped into working for Cambodia-based fraud rings through false promises of high-paying jobs or romance in recent months.
The victims are held against their will in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, and put into forced labour. Some were reportedly tortured, sexually assaulted and threatened with organ harvesting.
The scams attracted public attention after nine (9) Taiwanese victims were brought back home earlier this month, with the self-ruled island having received more than 340 requests for help from victims.
Taiwan authorities last week said that among some 6,000 residents who went to Cambodia in the first half of this year 2022, just some 3,400 returned.
POLICE ARREST 5 FOR ALLEGED ROLE IN SCAM LURING HONGKONGERS TO SOUTHEAST ASIA
The police force in Yunnan, a border province with northeast Myanmar, on Monday revealed some gruesome images of victims who have escaped from detention, with one having had four fingers and half of his palm chopped off.
Thai police earlier arrested Chinese businessman She Zhijiang on suspicion of illegal imprisonment, human trafficking and running illegal cross-border gambling operations in a place called " KK Park " on the border or Myanmar.
The Cambodian-Chinese fugitive, also known by aliases Tang Kriang-kai and Dylan She, was convicted by a court in Shandong province in 2014 for running an illegal lottery business in the Philippines but has not returned to China.
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@ Jackie San