Police have detained a Taoyuan couple suspected of over the past two months colluding with human trafficking rings and employment scammers in Southeast Asia to send nearly 100 Taiwanese jobseekers to Cambodia.
At a media briefing in Taipei yesterday, the Criminal Investigation Bureau presented items seized from the couple, including alleged victims’ passports, forged COVID-19 vaccination records, mobile phones, bank documents, checks and cash.
The man, surnamed Tsai (蔡), and his girlfriend, surnamed Tsan (詹), were taken into custody last month, after police at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport stopped four jobseekers from boarding a flight to Phnom Penh, said Dustin Lee (李泱輯), an officer in the bureau’s International Criminal Affairs Division.
Police detained Tsai at the airport after he allegedly dropped off the four people, Lee said.
Family members of the jobseekers had informed police about their plan, he added.
Tsan was later detained in the office she shared with Tsai, Lee said, adding that the couple face forgery and human trafficking charges.
Police later stopped another three jobseekers from boarding a plane to Cambodia, Lee said, adding that they were apparently also recruited by the Cambodia-based trafficking ring.
Investigators suspect that Tsai had transported nearly 100 Taiwanese to the airport as part of the operation, based on the about NT$2 million (US$66,733) he allegedly received for his services from the ring, Lee said.
The ring is suspected of targeting Taiwanese through advertising on social media that promised jobseekers high-paying jobs in casinos and hotels in Cambodia, police said.
However, local ring members allegedly took away jobseekers’ passports and other personal documents when they arrived in Cambodia, where they were then forced to work for telephone scam operations targeting Mandarin speakers, police said.
Tsai and Tsan were allegedly responsible for the ring’s operation in Taiwan, including providing information and advance payments to people interested in the advertised jobs, applying for passports and booking flight tickets and hotel rooms ahead of their departure, Lee said.
The jobseekers who were stopped at the airport did not know the name of the company they were to work for in Cambodia, nor did they know what tasks they would be hired for, Lee said.
The scammers did not ask for qualifications, which made the offerings attractive to those without a professional background, he added.
Officers told the people they stopped from boarding that they had fallen victim to a scam ring and that they would likely face abuse in Cambodia, Lee said.
Separately, Kaohsiung police said they had stopped a man surnamed Cheng (鄭) and his girlfriend, surnamed Wang (王), from traveling to Cambodia, where they suspected that they would have fallen victim to a similar scheme.
Wang’s parents notified police that she and her boyfriend were planning to take up employment there, police said, adding that they had been promised high-paying jobs and that their tickets had been paid for by a third party.
Police said Cheng told them he is a manual laborer without steady employment.
Someone on social media had offered him the job, claiming that “once you land in Cambodia, I have friends to take care of everything for you,” police cited him as saying.
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