Some 61 Vietnamese were among about 200 foreigners recently rescued from scam casinos in Myanmar by local authorities, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Thursday.
The Vietnamese citizens were tricked into working at fraudulent gambling establishments,
Myanmar authorities told Vietnamese Embassy officials in Yangon, according to ministry spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang.
The nationalities of the remaining roughly 140 others rescued wasn’t clear.
After ministry officials verified the identities of the 61 people, the embassy was instructed to work with authorities in Myanmar and Vietnam to create a consular protection plan and to eventually transport them back to Vietnam, she told reporters at a regular press briefing. She did not say where the casinos were located.
In late August, Radio Free Asia received calls for help from two families in Vietnam’s southern province of Kien Giang regarding their teenage children who they believed were trafficked to Laos, Myanmar and China. It was unclear if these teenagers were among the group.
The identities of the 61 people haven’t been released, and Pham Thu Hang did not say when they were rescued.
A United Nations report on Aug. 29 said that hundreds of thousands of people have been forced by organized criminal gangs into working at illegal casinos and other online scam work in Southeast Asia.
Myanmar and Cambodia topped the list of countries where the largest numbers of citizens were being forced to carry out online scams.
Many of the victims are well-educated, computer-literate and multilingual, according to the report. Victims come from across the ASEAN region – including Vietnam – as well as mainland China and sometimes even from Africa and Latin America, it said.
“The scam centers generate revenue amounting to billions of US dollars each year,” the report said.
“Public health measures closed casinos in many countries and in response, casino operators moved operations to less regulated spaces including conflict-affected border areas and Special Economic Zones, as well as to the increasingly lucrative online space,” it said.
Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.