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NIA Uncovers Human Trafficking Horror: Indian Techies Trapped in Laos Scam



NIA Uncovers Human Trafficking Horror: Indian Techies Trapped in Laos Scam

New Delhi, India – The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has cracked down on a human trafficking and cyber fraud syndicate operating across international borders. Five individuals, including two foreign nationals, were charged in the case on Friday.

Two of the accused, Jerry Jacob and Godfrey Alvares, are currently in custody. However, authorities are searching for the remaining three – Sunny Gonsalves and foreign nationals Niu Niu and Elvis Du.

The NIA investigation revealed a disturbing pattern. The accused targeted Indian youth skilled in computers and English, luring them with promises of work abroad. However, upon arrival (often via Thailand) at the Golden Triangle SEZ in Lao PDR, the victims found themselves trapped in fraudulent call centers.

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Forced Labor and Brutal Tactics

The NIA chargesheet details the horrific conditions these victims endured. They were coerced into working in these illegal call centers, often on tourist visas. Those who refused to participate faced a range of brutal control tactics, including:

  • Isolation and restriction of movement
  • Confiscation of passports and travel documents
  • Physical abuse
  • Arbitrary fines
  • Threats of violence and even rape
  • False drug charges

The NIA spokesperson revealed shocking measures taken by the syndicate to silence victims. They would delete data from victims’ phones to destroy evidence and threaten them with severe consequences if they sought help from embassies or local authorities.

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Extortion and Escape

The investigation exposed the financial exploitation as well. Those attempting to escape were held captive, sometimes for days without food, and subjected to torture. Their captors only released them after extorting large sums of money – ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1,80,000. In some cases, intervention by the Indian Embassy in Lao PDR based on victim complaints secured their release.

Shifting Hub of Cybercrime

This case highlights a concerning trend. According to the Indian Cyber Coordination Centre (I4C), Southeast Asian nations like Lao PDR and Cambodia are becoming new hotbeds for financial cyber fraud targeting India. These regions are now the source of nearly half (46%) of reported cybercrimes, including investment scams, digital arrest scams, trading scams, and dating scams.

The NIA crackdown highlights the dangers of human trafficking and the evolving landscape of cyber fraud. Continued vigilance and international cooperation are crucial to dismantling these criminal networks and protecting vulnerable individuals.

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