250 Indian Citizens Forced into Cybercrime, Rescued by the Govt | #cybercrime | #infosec

  • The Indian government has expatriated around 250 citizens stuck in Cambodia who were tortured into carrying out online scams
  • The victims had their passports seized and worked in inhumane conditions with no food
  • Around 200,000 people are stuck in South Asian countries according to the UN

The Indian government has rescued 250 citizens who were trapped in Cambodia and forced to carry out cyber crimes.

This news comes two days after the Indian Express published a report stating that more than 5,000 Indian citizens are trapped in South Asian countries and coerced into scamming people.

We are working with Cambodian authorities and with agencies in India to crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes.Ministry of External Affairs of India

Most of these victims were from the southern part of India and were lured by job offers in these countries. However, they were forced into scamming people back in India and extorting money. According to the report, more than 500 crores (around $60 million) have already been lost in the past six months.

The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have been trapped in these South Asian countries and forced to run online scams.

How Did the Scam Work?

Stephen, a recently rescued victim, has given details of how the entire scheme worked. Initially, everything seemed fine – the victims were taken to an office space and a legitimate-looking interview was carried out to gauge their typing speed.

It was only later that they found out that their job includes identifying vulnerable people on social media who can be scammed easily.

Another method of scam included creating fake trading apps and luring people into investing in ‘non-existing’ stocks.

They were forced into creating fake profiles on Facebook with profile pictures of women and carrying out romantic scams with identified targets.

Their ‘employers’ seized their passports and forced them to work 12 hours a day with stringent targets. If the targets were not met, the victims were deprived of food and shelter.

Refusing to do the work wasn’t an option either. The victims were meted with electric shocks, physical assault, and even solitary confinement as methods of torture.

After 45 days of staying in this hellhole, Stephen finally contacted his family, who with the help of a local politician, reached out to the embassy for help.

Read more: Sophisticated cryptoRom scams exploit AI tools to target crypto community

How Did the Incident Come to Light?

Here’s the series of events of how the entire scam was discovered:

  1. Apparently, one of the scammers ended up victimizing a Central government officer, costing him 70 lakhs.
  2. He made an official complaint at the Rourkela police station in Odisha.
  3. Investigations led to the arrest of eight people who were involved in sending innocent victims to Cambodia.
  4. Further investigations led to the arrest of two more people – Harish Kurapati and Naga Venkata while they were returning from Cambodia.
  5. The Non-Resident Indian Forum of the Government of Karnataka (NRIFK) coordinated with the Ministry of External Affairs of India to bring back three Karnataka residents trapped in Cambodia.

While 75 of the 250 rescued people were repatriated in the last three months, the timeline for the rest is not clear yet.

The Twitter account of the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh has published two email IDs – [email protected] and [email protected].

Indian citizens stuck in Cambodia under compelling circumstances can reach out to the authorities via email.

India isn’t the only country rescuing citizens from South Asian countries. Earlier in March, the Chinese and Philippines authorities rescued around 202 Chinese, 383 Filipinos, and 73 other people from a scam center near Manila, Philippines.


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