6 M’sian job scam victims, beaten & starved, rescued from scam syndicate in Myanmar

They were reportedly scammed into working after accepting false job offers.

Yen Zhi Yi | December 28, 2022, 12:19 PM

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Victims of the job scam syndicate based in "KK Garden", Myanmar, were recently rescued.

One of them, 19-year-old Muhd Farhan Azman, upon arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) arrival hall on Dec. 21, prostrated himself in gratitude, The Star reported.

He was one of the six job scam victims rescued with the help of Sim Chon Siang, the Teruntum assemblyman of People’s Justice Party (PKR).

The others who were rescued comprised 21-year-old Muhammad Redzuan Arif Rashidi, 30-year-old Yong Ying Yien, 25-year-old Felix Lim, 27-year-old Wong Chee Hoon, as well as 28-year-old Lim Han Hsin.

The rescue efforts included assistance from the Thai and Malaysian police, the Malaysian Embassy, the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council, as well as Victor Wong, who is a Malaysian in Thailand.

“Living hell”

Mohd Farhan described his harrowing experience at the large barbed-wired compound in Myanmar as “living hell”. He was reportedly beaten and starved for over a month for refusing to work for the scamming syndicate.

He and his friend, Muhammad Redzuan, were told to ask their parents for a ransom sum of RM15,000 (S$4,560) each as both did not want to work as scammers.

Muhd Farhan's mother, Zahiriah Abdul Rasid, who's 45 years old, told The Star that for the past four months, she had been unable to sleep and would burst into tears whenever she thought of her trapped son.

Zahiriah also said that her son would be beaten and starved if he failed to meet his target of RM30,000 (S$9,120) in scam proceeds.

Muhd Farhan and Muhammad Redzuan were allegedly almost sold to another scamming syndicate before escaping while at a hotel during transit. They approached a restaurant and asked the owner for help.

He described the KK Garden compound as a “dystopian town” surrounded by barbed wires, four-metre high walls, and armed guards, and added that the place was even larger than KLIA, according to another report by The Star.

Fake job offers

Mohd Farzan was conned into working for the syndicate after he accepted a job offer as a housekeeper in Thailand in September 2022, along with four of his friends.

He told The Star that after they flew to Bangkok, they were chauffeured to the Thailand-Myanmar border to stay at a hotel.

The next day, they were taken by boat to KK Garden, with personnel carrying guns escorting them into the compound.

Not the only victims of job scams

Sim said that there is an estimated number of 1,000 Malaysians who remain trapped in KK Garden, and that the syndicate personnel utilise torture to keep their prisoners in line. Torture methods include water torture, physical labour, beatings and tying victims to bunk beds for more than a month if they were caught escaping, The Star reported.

He further claimed that besides being coerced into working for more than 15 hours a day, victims would have their organs harvested if they cannot work.

A previous incident included two Malaysian men who were brought to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, to work for Chinese scamming syndicates after accepting supposedly lucrative “casino” job offers, according to Malaysiakini.

One of them, a 17-year-old, was reportedly sold five times to different syndicates in three months, and eventually sold to a syndicate in Myanmar.

Sim was also part of the rescue efforts for these men, and lamented the alleged lack of action taken by the Malaysian government in dealing with human trafficking and rescuing job scam victims, Malaysiakini reported.

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Top images via Getty/NurPhoto & Anadolu Agency