Cambodia shut its borders when COVID-19 struck, giving rise to new wave of trafficking, with stranded foreign workers and tourists lured into working for fraudulent investment schemes

* Foreigners lured by adverts offering call centre jobs

* Held against their will, victims forced into online scams

* Pandemic makes it easier for gangs to exploit foreigners

* China links kidnapping, trafficking to online gambling

By Matt Blomberg

PHNOM PENH, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Foreign workers and tourists stranded in Cambodia during the COVID-19 pandemic have been trafficked and forced to work in sophisticated Chinese-run online scams, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

In interviews, nine trafficking victims said they were lured by social media adverts promising well-paid jobs in call centres.

Instead, they ended up in shuttered hotel casinos and guarded compounds where they had their passports confiscated before being put to work online.

The victims, mainly from Africa and Asia, said they were ordered to create fake profiles on Tinder, WhatsApp and Facebook to entice people into fraudulent investment schemes involving cryptocurrencies, foreign exchange and shares.

Those who objected or performed poorly were subjected to violence and threats, victims said. Mary, a teacher from the Philippines, said she miscarried while locked in a room without food and water for…

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