HONG KONG (China Daily/Asia News Network): It is believed that three more Hong Kong people are being held captive in South-East Asian countries, having fallen victims to employment scams, taking the total number of South-East Asia employment-scam victims from the city to 23 since January, Undersecretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip revealed on Friday (Aug 19).
Of the 23 victims, 11 remain out of contact after being lured by offers of high-paying jobs to countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. They are believed to be held in captivity while being forced to engage in illegal activities.
Speaking on a radio programme, Cheuk said that of the three newly-reported victims, one is believed to be in Thailand and the other two in Cambodia. They have been able to keep in touch with their families and are thought to be safe at the moment, Cheuk said.
He revealed the biggest stumbling block to being able to rescue such victims is the inability to ascertain their locations.
Cheuk said it was reported that those being scammed would be coerced into engaging in phone and online scams and would only be released if they were able to swindle a certain amount of money from victims.
In some cases, Hong Kong employment-scam victims had only been released after their family had agreed to wire money as instructed by those holding them captive.
In a meeting with the press on Thursday, Cheuk said a cross-departmental task group had been established for rescuing victims.
Earlier, a spokesperson for the Commissioner’s Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR said that the office has been actively searching for Hong Kong people who are out of contact.
Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee on Friday also revealed that the city recorded over 12,000 acts of fraud of various types in the first half of this year, in almost 40 per cent increase over the same period last year.
The total number of fraud cases recorded in 2021 was only 8,600.
The police and the Immigration Department on Thursday began to distribute brochures about employment scams at check-in counters for flights leaving for South-East Asian countries.
The security bureau also added similar warnings to its webpage for outbound travel alerts.