Picture for illustrative purposes only.
PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
A dozen Filipinos have been rescued from human traffickers who forced them to work as online scammers abroad, according to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Rita (full name withheld), shared her ordeal after the Philippine government arranged her repatriation along with 11 other victims, according to IACAT.
The 29-year-old was working as a customer service representative in the Philippines when she was enticed by a recruiter on social media with an overseas job opportunity that claimed to pay $1,000 per month.
Thinking that it would help her family, Rita accepted the job offer. At the airport, Rita’s recruiter instructed her to pose as a tourist. She was provided false hotel bookings and a return ticket.
“Upon arrival overseas, she was taken to an unknown destination where she was forced to engage in a different job: online scamming,” according to IACAT.
Rita was reportedly instructed to create fake online accounts to scam other people into investing in cryptocurrency. IACAT said that similar incidents have been reported by hundreds of young Filipino professionals.
“They suffered physical and mental abuse. Such as being whipped, electrocuted, prolonged solitary confinement without food for days and being threatened to sell their organs or be killed,” according to IACAT, quoting Rita and other victim survivors who have been rescued and repatriated.
Rita advised Filipino jobseekers to think twice when offers are “too good to be true”. “Don’t take them because they might harm you. You can still earn a decent income, but go through the legal process. Check that permits are valid and approved. Do your research. Ignorance of the law excuses no one,” Rita advised in Filipino.
As part of its intensified efforts against human trafficking, IACAT appealed to Filipinos to be wary when accepting job offers from unknown sources and to be alert of human traffickers.
In 2010, the Philippine government created guidelines to standardize the inspection and clearance of international Filipino passengers. Its purpose is to prevent human trafficking and protect Filipinos from illegal recruitment. The guidelines also aim to capture emerging trends in the trafficking of Filipinos.
As of April 2023, the Philippine government monitored 2.2 million passengers departing abroad. Of this number, 99.5 percent were cleared to depart the country. The remainder were flagged for showing fraudulent, falsified or tampered documents or were identified as potentially trafficked persons, according to the DFA.
Filipino victims of human trafficking are provided by the Philippine government with repatriation, welfare assistance, psychos-social assistance and legal assistance. ICA/Expat Media
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