Scam ring victims return from Cambodia

Seven Thais who appealed to be rescued from the hands of a scam ring in Cambodia through a livestreamed video session have safely returned to Thailand, according to the police yesterday.

The two men and five women returned to Thailand through the border checkpoint in Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district at 7pm on Tuesday, escorted by Thai embassy staff and Cambodian security officials, said the chief of Sa Kaeo’s immigration office, Pol Col Rung Thongmon.

Four of them had passports, while the rest had no valid travel documents. They told authorities they were brought into Cambodia through an unguarded border crossing.

The victims managed to livestream their plight on Facebook on Monday, saying they had been duped by a Chinese-run scam ring into working in Bavet township in Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province, which borders Vietnam.

They were forced to swindle money from Thai nationals using a false Facebook page created to lure victims into applying for loans online and other scams. If they failed to meet their set target, gang members would physically assault them, Pol Col Rung told the media.

They were forced to work about 15 hours a day without pay. Their dorms were surrounded by an electric fence, so they were unable to leave, said the police.

In desperation, they turned to Facebook to appeal for help.

After seeing their video session, Sa Kaeo immigration coordinated with the Thai embassy and Cambodian security officials to mount a rescue operation, Pol Col Rung said.

They were rescued by Cambodian officials and then escorted to the border at 7pm on Tuesday, he said.