BARRIO (The Guardian) – More than 40 people from Malaysia have been rescued by police in Peru after they fell victim to a human trafficking syndicate operating a telecommunication fraud.
The Malaysians were forced to participate in the so-called “Macau scam”, making calls to companies in Malaysia and Taiwan to demand money while posing as banks, police or justice officials.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry said Peruvian police found the 43 Malaysians after raiding a house in La Molina in the capital Lima on 7 October. It said representatives from its embassy had visited them and found them in good health.
Six Taiwanese and two Peruvians were arrested.
“All victims have also undergone an investigation process and will be repatriated to Malaysia” soon, it said.
Activists and government officials say hundreds of Malaysians have been lured by lucrative job offers in south-east Asian nations such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, only to end up being made to defraud people online with internet romances and cryptocurrency schemes.
The captives had entered Peru in September, lured via social networks with promises of work in casinos in the capital. They told investigators they were taken to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and then to Peru.
Once there, members of a Taiwanese crime group known as Red Dragon took away their passports and cut them off from communication with relatives, police said.
A police operation was mounted after two women managed to escape and alert the authorities.
Investigators seized more than $10,000 (£8,200), dozens of mobile phones and bank cards from the house where the foreigners were held.