SEPANG: The three Malaysian youths who were rescued by Thai police from being forced to work for a “Macau scam” ring in Bangkok in October have arrived home.
However, the trio - two men aged 20 and 23 and a 20-year-old woman - were picked up by police upon their arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Friday (Jan 19) night.
Several plain-clothes police officers were seen escorting them away at 10.35pm.
The three youths arrived at 9.45pm on AirAsia flight AK885 from Don Mueang.
When contacted, the woman said: “I’m not sure what is going on. The police said they were from the commercial crimes department.”
“They want to bring us back to the police station for a few days to question us about what happened,” she said.
The trio are now being held at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.
Jack, the father of the 20-year-old man, said he was not sure why his son and the two others were being held.
“They are victims. They were rescued by the Thai police, not arrested,” he said.
On Oct 27 last year, Thai Police raided a condominium in Bang Na, Bangkok, which was used as a hub for the scam syndicate, headed by a Taiwanese gangster.
The 20-year-old woman was found with severe bruises on various parts of her body due to the beatings she suffered for defying the syndicate’s orders.
Three other Malaysians, aged between 22 and 27, who were also on the premises, were arrested and are still being detained as court witnesses.
The raid was carried out after Jack was secretly alerted of the situation by his son via Facebook Messenger and WeChat.
The Malaysians had their passports and handphones seized by the syndicate and were also monitored round the clock to ensure that they were cut off from the outside world.
Jack flew to Bangkok the very next day with the information he received and alerted the Malaysian Embassy there, who then sought help from the Thai Police.
The three Malaysians had reportedly found their jobs in Thailand through a Facebook posting, which claimed that it was a customer service and online sales job.
They were “interviewed” by syndicate members in Malaysia and were offered RM5,000 monthly but were told that they had to be based in Bangkok.
The term “Macau scam” was coined because it is believed that such scams originated from Macau or that the first victims came from there, but this has never been confirmed.
Macau scams usually start with a phone call from a scammer pretending to be an officer from a bank, government agency or debt collector.
The scammer will then claim that the potential victim owes money or has an unpaid fine, often with a very short window of less than an hour, to settle the payment or face “dire consequences”.