25 Vizagites trafficked to Cambodia return home

The duration of captivity varied between one year and three months.
Jobless youth, who were taken to Singapore with a job promise and then trafficked to Cambodia, arrived at Vizag airport on Friday
Jobless youth, who were taken to Singapore with a job promise and then trafficked to Cambodia, arrived at Vizag airport on Friday Photo | G satyanarayana

VISAKHAPATNAM: As many as 25 of the total 58 individuals from the Port City, who were trafficked to Cambodia, landed at Visakhapatnam International Airport on Friday evening.

A total of 150 people from Andhra Pradesh were lured to Singapore with false promises of employment, only to find themselves held captive in Cambodia, tortured, and coerced into cybercrimes targeting Indian citizens.

Stressing that the rescued individuals will be treated as victims, Visakhapatnam Commissioner of Police Dr A Ravi Shankar explained, “We will not file cases against them, as they went there seeking legitimate employment. Our focus will be on gathering details from them to take action against the actual traffickers.”

Further, he asserted that the remaining individuals, who are in contact with the police through WhatsApp, will also be rescued shortly after all the legal proceedings are completed. The duration of captivity varied between one year and three months.

Sharing an account of their experiences, the CP said the victims were tortured by being deprived of food, locked in dark rooms, and physically beaten with baseball bats. He said the victims received meals based on their performance in cheating people.

“Underperforming victims received food only once a day, while those who defrauded a number of people were given two meals a day. ‘High performers’ were rewarded with parties,” he explained.

Seven of the 60 Indians rescued from Cambodia arrived at Visakhapatnam International Airport on Friday evening
Seven of the 60 Indians rescued from Cambodia arrived at Visakhapatnam International Airport on Friday evening Photo I G satyanarayana

According to initial statements by the victims, middlemen collected Rs 1.5 lakh from each of them and handed them over to Chinese agents. These Chinese agents then trained them in various cybercrimes, including FedEx scams and frauds related to stock market, task-game and online jobs. Through these scams, an estimated Rs 120 crore has been swindled in Visakhapatnam alone. On Friday, a new FIR was filed where a victim lost Rs 3.2 crore through a FedEx scam.

Stating that a team, led by Joint CP K Fakirappa and Cyber Crime Inspector Bhavani, will collect all details from the victims, including data, bank transactions, and videos, to delve deeper into the case and nab the culprits, the police officer said a large-scale awareness programme will soon be conducted for youth to prevent such incidents in the future. He noted that similar issues have been reported in the Middle East. 

Shankar revealed that there are nearly 70 agents and sub-agents in Visakhapatnam alone. “We have already gathered details of these agents. We will verify their licenses and take appropriate action,” he explained.

The commissioner added that 20 different teams have been formed to pursue 20 different leads from victims. These leads include a focus on agents, passports, bank transactions, the Bureau of Immigration, call detail records, e-mail records, etc.

“We will collect all details related to these transnational crimes through the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs, and correspond with officials from Cambodia to ensure such incidents do not recur,” the Commissioner of Police said.

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