Twenty-five Japanese nationals suspected of involvement in a cyberscam operation based in Cambodia have been deported to Japan
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Twenty-five Japanese nationals suspected of involvement in a cyberscam operation based in Cambodia were deported to Japan on Wednesday, said Gen. Khieu Sopheak, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s Interior Ministry.
The Japanese government arranged a charter flight to transport the suspects, who were detained in September after Cambodian police received a tip-off from their Japanese counterparts, he told The Associated Press.
Khieu Sopheak thanked the Japanese government “for their support and good cooperation with the Cambodian government in order to arrest these people.”
Cybercrime scams have become a major issue in Asia.
In August, the U.N.’s human rights office said that criminal gangs have forced hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia into participating in unlawful online scam operations, including false romantic ploys, bogus investment pitches and illegal gambling schemes.
In April, 19 Japanese nationals suspected of participating in phone and online scams were similarly deported from Cambodia to their homeland. They had been arrested in the southern city of Sihanoukville, which is notorious for cybercrime scams.
Such scams became a major issue in Cambodia last year, when there were numerous reports of people from various Asian countries and further afield being lured into taking jobs in Cambodia. However, they often found themselves trapped in virtual slavery and forced to participate in scams targeting people over the internet.
The scam networks, which often have links to transnational organized crime, are set up in countries with weak law enforcement and attract educated young workers with promises of high earnings. The workers are then subjected to isolation and threats of violence unless they succeed in cheating victims reached by phone into transferring payments into overseas bank accounts.