Dozens of Hong Kongers are suspected of going missing in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos on promises of false job opportunities this year. The victims were given flight tickets, had their passports taken when they landed and were forced to work in a scam center. Twenty-three of these victims are still missing and believed to be held in Cambodia and Myanmar, and many haven’t been in contact with their families. So far, 14 victims have been deemed safe, and 12 are back in Hong Kong.
On Sunday, Hong Kong police arrested five people believed to be involved in this scheme on charges of conspiracy to defraud, and a sixth man was arrested yesterday. Last Thursday, Hong Kong set up an investigative task force that will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese embassies and consulates abroad and Interpol to look into the trafficking cases. Now, authorities are working on educating the public about scams like this one.
“Because the whole scam operation is located overseas, there are certain difficulties for us to gather information and also to gather evidence to prosecute, or even to identify those suspects. But we are using all platforms, including Interpol, to help us to know more, to gather more information and evidence against this deception operation,” said (Tony) Ho Chun-tung, senior superintendent of the Hong Kong police’s organized crime and triad bureau.
“[We] hope Hong Kong people can be more alert … there is no such thing as jobs that don’t require education or work experience, but that [pay] a lot of money,” Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip said on an RTHK program on Monday.