MANILA, Philippines – Eight Filipino victims of human trafficking schemes have been repatriated from Myanmar on Monday morning of Feb. 13, around 5a.m.
Four of these victims, all males, were recruited online from Dubai and were promised positions in a company’s customer support department in Thailand.
The job they signed up for however turned out to be a scam. Instead, they were brought to Myanmar and were forced to work as cryptocurrency scammers.
Months ago, Senator Risa Hontiveros has revealed that a Chinese syndicate is behind the fake job ads preying on unsuspecting applicants, who in turn are left with no choice but to take part in its cryptocurrency investment scams as their lives are threatened.
In her privilege speech on Nov. 21, 2022, Hontiveros stated her office’s gathered information, saying: “That’s what the original job listing [says]: call center agent. But, when they arrived in Thailand, where they thought they were going to work, the members of this Chinese mafia dragged them to Myanmar to make them scammers using cryptocurrency. And if they don’t get to scam anyone, they aren’t fed, they aren’t paid, they are sold to other companies.”
With the spread of these fraudulent job offer posts on social media, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reminded Filipinos to be discerning and vigilant of their online transactions to avoid falling prey to human trafficking schemes.
“It is vital to pass through the legal deployment processes in the Philippines and arrive in their countries of destination not as tourists but with actual working visas,” the DFA reminded.
Meanwhile, the other four female victims brought back in the Philippines were detained for allegedly entering Myanmar illegally from Thailand.
It is important to take note that the only legal entry points for foreigners are through Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw airports. Using other means is illegal.
The Myanmar-Thai Friendship Bridge, a border crossing, though reopened last month after being closed for almost three years, can only be used by Thai and Burmese nationals.
The eight victims were welcomed by the DFA team led by its Acting Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo Jose de Vega.
The concerned Philippine government agencies worked closely with Myanmar authorities to make the rescue efforts possible.