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May 24, 2024

60 Indians Rescued from Cambodian Cyber Fraud Rackets Return Home

At least 60 Indians have been successfully rescued and repatriated from Cambodia after being trafficked and forced into cyber fraud schemes. This significant rescue operation, facilitated by the Indian embassy in Cambodia, marks a major step in combating human trafficking and cybercrime. The embassy proudly announced the return of these individuals on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “Always committed to helping Indians abroad. First batch of 60 Indian nationals rescued by Indian Embassy in Cambodia from fraudulent employers return home. Thank the Cambodian authorities for their support.”

The embassy’s efforts were instrumental in coordinating with the Sihanoukville authorities to arrange travel documents and other necessary logistics for the safe return of these individuals. This rescue mission is part of a broader response to a report from the Andhra Pradesh police, which revealed that around 300 Indians had staged a “revolt” against their handlers in Cambodia on May 20, leading to numerous arrests. Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner A. Ravi Shankar detailed the large-scale riots initiated by these trafficked Indians in Jinbei and Compound, Sihanoukville, an area notoriously linked to cybercrime activities.

The trafficked individuals were enticed to Cambodia with promises of high-paying jobs but were subsequently coerced into working for cybercrime syndicates. In response to this alarming situation, the Indian embassy established a temporary control room in Sihanoukville to assist the trapped nationals, many of whom were from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Embassy officials were sent to provide on-ground support and facilitate the repatriation process.

The Indian embassy’s proactive approach, in collaboration with Cambodian authorities, has ensured the safe return of nearly 360 Indian nationals from these scam centers in Cambodia, including the 60 rescued on May 20. This ongoing rescue operation underscores the embassy’s commitment to safeguarding Indian citizens abroad.

In the wake of these incidents, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued an advisory warning Indian nationals seeking employment in Cambodia and Southeast Asia to remain vigilant against scams. The advisory highlights that fraudulent agents, in collaboration with counterparts in India, are luring individuals into cybercrime operations under the guise of legitimate job offers.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) have reported a significant increase in cybercrime complaints originating from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. In response, authorities have intensified their efforts to curb cybercrime activities. Over the past four months, substantial measures have been implemented, including the freezing of 325,000 mule accounts, blocking over 3,000 URLs and 595 apps under Section 69A of the IT Act, and suspending or revoking 530,000 SIM cards and 80,848 IMEI numbers since July 2023.

These robust measures reflect a comprehensive strategy to tackle the rising tide of cybercrime linked to Southeast Asia. The collaboration between Indian and Cambodian authorities has proven effective in rescuing trafficked individuals and dismantling cybercrime syndicates. The Indian embassy’s ongoing efforts and the MEA’s advisories are critical components in protecting Indian nationals and preventing further exploitation.

As the battle against cybercrime and human trafficking continues, the Indian government remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding its citizens abroad. The successful rescue and repatriation of these 60 individuals symbolize hope and resilience, demonstrating the power of international cooperation in addressing and resolving complex global challenges.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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