PETALING JAYA: A trafficked Malaysian teenager in Myanmar had to call people from all over the world for 12 hours a day to entice them into a love scam for a criminal syndicate.
The scam involved forming a love connection with foreigners, including Malaysians, in exchange for cash, said Lao.
“I was taken to a village in Myawaddy in south-eastern Myanmar on March 22 through illegal routes after being lured by a job advertisement promising up to RM7,000 a month.
“I was asked to work from midnight till noon.
“When I realised what I was brought to do, I was terrified and wanted to leave,” he told reporters at a press conference, adding that he stayed in a room with five other Malaysian and Chinese nationals.
The 15-year-old said all the trafficked individuals were not allowed to leave the compound, which was guarded by heavily armed individuals.
“Anyone found wandering would be punished.
“During my one week there, I was worried that I would be beaten because I failed to fulfil my quota. But because I was young, I was spared … the others weren’t so lucky.”
He said he also saw about 200 other Malaysians in the compound, many of whom were young girls.
Lao said he had begged his “bosses” to let him go but to no avail. They told him they would only let him go if ransom was paid.
On March 28, Lao was joined by another victim, named Gan, who was aged 14. Realising the media attention on the two teenagers was attracting unnecessary attention, the syndicate released them after the RM10,000 ransom was paid.
Asked what the two teenagers had learned from the experience, Lao advised the public to be cautious about what was being advertised online.
“Be careful and don’t trust everything you see online,” he said.
After receiving the ransom, the teenagers were left at the Thai-Myanmar border near the Mae Sot river. MCA public services and complaints department head Michael Chong reached out to his contacts there to assist the teenagers.
He said the boys were detained at an immigration detention centre in Bangkok for several weeks. They were later released with the help of the Malaysian embassy there.