India Rescues 250 Citizens Enslaved By Cybercrime Gang

The Indian government announced that it had rescued 250 Indian citizens enslaved by a Cambodian cybercrime gang. The kidnapped Indians were forced to serve and commit cybercrimes.

India Rescues 250 Citizens Enslaved By Cybercrime Gang

The short statement read as follows,

We have seen media reports on Indian nationals stuck in Cambodia…Our Embassy in Cambodia has been promptly responding to complaints from Indian nationals who were lured with employment opportunities to that country but were forced to undertake illegal cyber work. Collaborating closely with Cambodian authorities, it has rescued and repatriated about 250 Indians, of which 75 in just the last three months…Several advisories have also been issued by the Ministry and the Embassy of India in Cambodia to our nationals about such scams.
We remain committed to helping all those Indian nationals in Cambodia who seek our support…We are also working with Cambodian authorities and with agencies in India to crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes.

In a subsequent news article published by India Today, more information was provided to the public, including the shocking statistic that approximately 5,000 Indian citizens have been enslaved in Cambodia to carry out cyber crimes.

The Indian citizens held against their will are estimated to have earned the gang approximately 60,000,000 USD in the last six months alone.

In better explaining to the public what these individuals were forced to endure, one of the Indian citizens rescued said that he had come to Cambodia to fill out a data entry job but was instead forced into living in horrid conditions while carrying out scams coordinated by a team of Chinese and Malaysian scammers.

As to the modus operandi imposed on these "cyber slaves," the rescued "scammer" noted that they were told to create fake social media profiles used for defrauding fellow Indians. Their overseers assigned daily financial quotas and enforced them with physical violence and isolation on those who failed to meet them.

The scammers impersonate law enforcement officers who contact select victims deemed gullible by their social media profiles and blackmail them with false allegations about illegal items found in parcels sent by them.

In this individual's case, "cyber slaves" targeted a government official who then reported losses suffered to the local police, who in turn began investigations into the cyber gang. Eight individuals were discovered as linked to the massive scam operation.

It is important to note that investigations continue, but the incident is a reminder to individuals that gangs are willing to exploit a person's need for paid employment.

Cyber Slavery

This is by no means an isolated incident. In the summer of 2023, Philippine law enforcement agencies freed over 1000 workers from an industrial-scale cyber scam just 90 kilometers north of Manila. It was reported that the workers came from 10 different countries around Asia.

Their 'employers' had confiscated their passports, not allowing them to leave the compound, and forced them to work for up to 18 hours a day in what was perhaps generously termed "prison-like" conditions.

Even by this stage, industrial-scale scam operations were known to operate from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. Just as now, the business model relies on luring educated and computer-literate young people to apply for jobs in IT or Fintech.

The recruiters make use of social media to attract young people; however, in the past, even personal contacts were used to try to lure young professionals.

Writing on this disturbing trend, Mark Turner and Anthea McCarthy-Jones, described what happens to those expecting to arrive at a well-paid job.

They said,

But when the job-seekers reach Bangkok, the preferred entry point for mainland Southeast Asia, they are whisked off by bus, taken across land borders and dumped into fortified compounds with armed guards. They have been trafficked. Their passports are confiscated, contracts torn up and they are told to learn the sales routines for particular cyber scams. The fledgling scammers must work 14 hours per day or more, trying to win the confidence of mainly Americans, Europeans and Australians to persuade them of the authenticity of a fake business opportunity or romance.


Money is then paid by those scammed as the culmination of this process, known colloquially as 'pig butchering'. If the trafficked scammers fail to meet their quotas or break rules, they are subjected to violent punishment that can result in severe injury. Those who have been rescued or escaped have reported harrowing stories of beatings, electric shocks, water torture, sexual exploitation, starvation and confinement in dark rooms.

It is believed that these industrial-scale scamming operations are primarily driven by Chinese gangsters. When governments in Southeast Asia began cracking down on illicit gambling, gangs saw a significant knock on profits and needed a new way to generate lost profits.

Human trafficking proved to be the way to erase losses, and trafficking in individuals with basic English and computer skills opened new methods of exploitation.

Non-government organizations have led the fight against these scams and criminal organizations, as operations operate in countries where the rule of law is weak.

Estimates of the numbers trafficked are generally in the tens of thousands. The Humanity Research Consultancy has calculated a figure of around 25,000, although there have been other claims that the numbers could be up to 100,000.

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About the author:

Karolis Liucveikis

Karolis Liucveikis - experienced software engineer, passionate about behavioral analysis of malicious apps.

Author and general operator of PCrisk's "Removal Guides" section. Co-researcher working alongside Tomas to discover the latest threats and global trends in the cyber security world. Karolis has experience of over five years working in this branch. He attended KTU University and graduated with a degree in Software Development in 2017. Extremely passionate about technical aspects and behavior of various malicious applications. Contact Karolis Liucveikis.

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