For years, the UN and anti humantrafficking NGO have issues warnings about Southeast Asian criminal syndicates capturing and forcing regional hostages into a life of crime where they need to buy back their freedom by perpetrating online cons of all kinds, from romancescams to aggressive extortion. Public Safety Canada | Sécurité publique Canada is absolutely right when it says “human trafficking isn’t what you think it is”.

Lack of public awareness, lawenforcement enforcement and government action have allowed this abusive industry to balloon into a multi-billion dollar international behemoth during the global pandemic, particularly in countries like Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar.

The entire world is now their oyster as Western cyberfraud victims are targeted by – literally – hundreds of thousands of captive – often Chinese – hostages who were themselves lured by the promise of cross-border employment. They are now slaving away under penalty of torture and death threats.

According to the United Nations: “Victims face a range of serious violations and abuses, including threats to their safety and security; and many have been subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary detention, sexual violence, forced labour, and other human rights abuses”.


Reframing cybercrime as the exploitation of victims to defraud business and individual marks across international boundaries may feel like acrobatic cognitive dissonance, but it’s not dissimilar from wildlifecrime and other forms of trafficking where vulnerable humans are coerced into performing immoral acts.

In Canada, The KnowledgeFlow Cybersafety Foundation works with key partners and agencies to raise awareness of the shady dynamics that fuel this immensely profitable organized crime.

If you can stomach it, here are two clips with supporting evidence:
Forced to Scam: Cambodia’s Cyber Slaves | 101 East Documentary – YouTube and Inside the ‘living hell’ of Cambodia’s scam operations • FRANCE 24 English – YouTube