India rescues 5K citizens forced into cyber scam jobs in Cambodia

The Indian government said efforts are underway to rescue at least 5,000 citizen job seekers who were lured to Cambodia and forced to participate in a cyber fraud syndicate scamming millions of dollars from fellow Indians back home.

The Indian embassy in Cambodia is working with Cambodian authorities and has rescued and repatriated about 250 Indians, including 75 in the last three months, India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a statement on Saturday.

Jaiswal was responding to Indian news reports that stated more than 5,000 Indians are trapped in Cambodia and being forced to carry out cyber frauds on people back home.

"We are also working with Cambodian authorities and with agencies in India to crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes," Jaiswal said.

The Indian nationals being held captive have amassed Rs 500 crore over the past six months the equivalent of nearly 60 million US dollars, reported news outlet India Today.

According to the media outlet, one of the scams forced the Indian citizens to pretend to be law enforcement officers.

“They would contact victims and falsely claim that suspicious items were found in packages sent by them, then demand money,” India Today reported.

Other "cyber slaves" were forced to pose as women on dating apps participating in crypto scams. The victims were said to have "endured harsh conditions, including being denied food and rest, physical assaults, and even isolation if they didn't meet targets," the outlet said.

The Indian government and its embassy in Cambodia have issued several advisories informing them about such scams, the spokesperson said.

The Cambodian embassy in India did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Sunday.

So far eight people have been reported arrested in India as part of a criminal syndicate responsible for luring the victims, with one rescued victim claiming that the perpetrators in Cambodia were Chinese.