Philippine Human Trafficking Victims Return Home After Myanmar Gambling Scam

Posted on: February 14, 2023, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: August 30, 2023, 02:40h.

Authorities in the Philippines and Myanmar recently aided in rescuing eight Filipinos who were trafficked by Chinese criminal gangs. These individuals, which included four men and four men, were allegedly recruited to Myanmar for legitimate work, only to find themselves caught in illegal gambling and cryptocurrency scams.

Myanmar citizens march for peace amid increased organized crime
Myanmar citizens march for peace amid increased organized crime. Authorities in the country helped free eight Filipinos who may have been part of illegal gambling and cryptocurrency frauds in the country. (Image: The New York Times)

Criminal gangs trafficked the men to work as trade representatives in Thailand. When the men arrived in Myanmar, they were forced to work in call centers and scam people into investing in cryptocurrencies or gambling online, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Authorities arrested the Filipino women in Myanmar. They allegedly entered the country via a bridge between the country and Thailand, the Myanmar-Thai Friendship Bridge, which is only open to citizens of those two countries.

The authorities then contacted the Philippines to organize their return.

Scams Common

Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros reports that Chinese groups are behind the activity, saying they run illegal gambling and cryptocurrency scams and often target Filipinos.

Acting undersecretary for Migrant Worker’s Affairs, Eduardo Jose de Vega, believes there could still be between 50 and 70 Filipinos working for Chinese fraudsters in Myanmar. Another 50 could be trapped by Chinese criminal organizations in Cambodia and Laos.

Authorities helped at least 119 Filipinos return home last year.

The DFA has advised Filipinos to be cautious about job postings on social media. A recent statement issued by the department encourages workers to secure proper work visas to help protect themselves against these common scams.

Trafficking in Southeast Asia

Senator Hontiveros released a recent statement detailing another similar human trafficking incident. Authorities rescued the unidentified Filipino woman last month after traffickers sent her to Cambodia on the promise of a call center job.

The woman had to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, in slave-like conditions. It was the only way she could avoid torture and punishment. Her bosses abused fellow Filipino workers, according to official statements. Hontiveros concluded that the criminal gangs had sent other victims to Myanmar as well.

Several weeks ago, authorities in Kuwait received reports of a charred body in the desert. Upon inspection, they determined that it was Jullebee Ranara. The 35-year-old had gone to Kuwait from the Philippines for a job. She was pregnant at the time of her death.

Authorities suspect the employee’s 17-year-old son to be behind the violent crime.