Thai Woman Tricked Into Forced Labor in the Philippines

A Thai woman revealed that a Chinese-led romance scam gang had tricked her into forced labor.

Speaking to the police on Wednesday, the 26-year-old woman, identified only as Sa, said she had found an ad on Facebook offering a job post in the Philippines. The person in the position was supposed to chat with digital currency customers.

The survivor said that she responded to the job advertisement and received a message from an alleged company offering a monthly salary of 30,000 baht plus commission, free travel, and free accommodation.

At first, the woman was hesitant about the job but was convinced that the offer was legitimate after seeing photos of the alleged office where the team worked.

The victims, including Ms. Sa, traveled to Manila on August 12. Upon arriving in the Philippine capital, they discovered that the job offer was actually a romance scam.

The alleged employers immediately seized their mobile phones. Those who tried to flee were handcuffed, beaten, and struck with electric shocks, Miss. Sa’s added.

Miss. Sa and at least ten other people demanded to return to Thailand a week after arriving. However, they were held against their will, chained up, assaulted, and subjected to electric shocks. Some people even had their heads submerged in water.

The woman filed a complaint against forced labor with the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division. According to her statement, there were between 30 and 40 Thais working there.

Miss. Sa said scammers were Chinese, adding that they kicked her, handcuffed her, intimidated her with electric shocks, and beat her with cables and belts.

The employers told them they had to pay 100,000 baht each to be released. Ms. Sa and seven other people managed to find the money, but she was stranded in Manila for at least 20 days.

The victim said she had contacted the Survive Facebook page to get help. The Thai embassy in Manila responded to the emergency call and rescued her and three other victims.

Miss. Sa and two other victims filed complaints with the police. However, many decided not to seek help after the gang members photographed them naked and threatened to post the nude pictures online if they took legal action.

All the managers were Chinese, but the gang had Thais, Chinese, and Malaysians working for them. The office doors were protected by armed guards and most couldn’t escape, Ms. Sa added.