Serving scammers in Myanmar, job scam victim reveals

GEORGE TOWN: A job scam victim now trapped in Myanmar got in touch with Jelutong MCA and alleged a sordid tale of misery.

The victim claimed he was now in a tightly guarded area where reluctant trafficked people were forced to call prospective victims from around the world.

Jelutong MCA committee member Jeffrey Ooi (pic) said he was able to speak with that victim, who claimed he was in an area in Myanmar controlled by the rebel army faction there.

"We believe the victims are in the Mamwadi area where the Myanmar government is not in control.

"We understand that the victims are placed at Mamwadi, which is a 'paradise' for scam syndicates.

"The prison-like area is guarded by armed personnel.

"There are mini markets, restaurants, clinics, amusement centres in the area for the syndicate members to enjoy," he said in a press conference at Jelutong MCA division premises in Jalan Taman Free School on Friday (May 13).

Ooi, a lawyer, said he learned that most of the victims there were from China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

"One of the victims we talked to claimed that he was 'sold' by a Malaysian agent to a syndicate there for between RM30,000 and RM50,000.

"The person claimed he has to pay the amount to leave or earn RMB500,000 (RM323,453) to be released," he said.

Penang MCA youth vice president Sit Jie Hao, who was at the press conference, said the victims first enter Bangkok and then must surrender their passports.

"They would be driven by car for around seven hours to reach Maesot in Thailand.

"Then, at night, they are smuggled into Mamwadi, which is just across a river.

"We were told that the working hours are from 4pm to 4am every day but they are allowed to take two breaks of an hour each," he said.

Being able to use English, Sit said they were told that the Malaysians were employed as scammers for the European market.

"If their 'work performance' is not good, they are not paid at all," he said.

Sit, also a lawyer, said the victims alleged that workers from China would be beaten and then confined in a dark room for days if they were not compliant.

"Malaysians are treated better, we are told, and will only be beaten if they do not perform," he said.

Jelutong MCA chairman Chuah Chin Chuon said Penang MCA received four reports on job scam victims and are helping the families bring their loved ones back.

"It is relatively difficult to deal with the syndicate but it is not impossible. We must bring back the victims in the fastest time possible," he said.

Meanwhile, Penang police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain urged the public to not be easily deceived by overseas job opportunities offered with lucrative salaries.

"The public should check the validity of the offers. Job scams are now on the rise.

"Too many people are being easily deceived by promises of big salaries and lavish lifestyles," he said.

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