Teen swindled by job scam

Free at last: (From right) Koh with his mother Loke and Ch’ng walking through the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: Teenager Koh Sheng Yur was made to run five laps around a football field and carry a barrel of water weighing 7kg up and down six flights of stairs if he failed to deceive China citizens in a phone scam.

Recollecting his ordeal in Myanmar, Koh, 19, from Pahang, said he saw a job offer on Facebook and was motivated to contact them as the monthly salary offered was RM5,000.

“According to the advertisement, they said that I will be working in Kelantan, which is why I did not take my passport with me.

“But when we got there, we were transported into Thailand by boat through the Golok River [which lies on the border between Malaysia and Thailand] and through several illegal routes,” he said.

Koh, who had been trapped in Myanmar since April, said after arriving there, he and others were told to work at a call centre to deceive citizens from China.

“If we failed, we would not be paid. This was the routine for us, which included over 200 other Malaysians there.

“There was never a quiet day there. In fact, every time the syndicate members allowed us to call our families in Malaysia, they would sit with us to ensure that we did not tell the truth,” he told a press conference at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas yesterday.

He cautioned the public, especially youth, not to be fooled by job advertisements that offer lucrative salaries because they are usually tactics used by syndicates to recruit people.

Koh’s return to Penang was made possible by businessman and Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Datuk Seri Johny Ch’ng Ewe Gee, who used his connections to help get Koh out of Myanmar.

Koh was at the airport yesterday with his mother, Loke Chooi Tip, 57, who expressed the family’s gratitude to Ch’ng, who is contesting the Balik Pulau parliamentary seat as an independent in the elections.

Ch’ng said he had used his business contacts in Thailand to rescue Koh.

“Someone who knew the family reached out to me about his plight.

“It took me three months to carry this out as I contacted people I knew and worked with the local police there due to my networking in MCPF.

“The main issue here is that the younger generation is looking elsewhere due to lack of job opportunities and low income.

“I want to make sure it does not happen in Balik Pulau.

“We need to create more opportunities so that our youth don’t have to move to another country to seek employment.

“I hope to address this if elected,” he added.

Ch’ng also said he did not help Koh just because he was contesting in GE15.

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