A Vietnam court has sentenced an interpreter to 16 years in prison for swindling nine people with a scam offering 'high-paying easy jobs,' promising them work as customer service staff in Cambodia but actually sending them to an exploitative online game firm to get US$2,700 in brokerage fees.
Ly Phuong Thao, 37, received the sentence at her trial opened at the Da Nang City People’s Court in central Vietnam on Monday over the offense of human trafficking under Article 150 of the Vietnamese Penal Code.
The woman, hailing from Ho Chi Minh City, had traveled to Cambodia many times since 2019 when she started working for some Chinese companies there as an interpreter, according to the indictment.
In early December 2020, through an online advertisement, Thao learned that a Chinese online game establishment in Sihanouk Province was recruiting employees and offering fees to job brokers at a rate of $300-500 per recruit.
The company said it would pay brokers all costs related to transferring successful candidates to the firm.
On December 3, 2020, Thao provided false information to a friend, T.P.K., who was in search of a job.
She falsely claimed that she could introduce K. to a company for a position in its customer service department.
Thao deceitfully informed K. that the job primarily involved entering data on computers and taking care of the company's clients.
She further falsely claimed that the monthly salary was highly lucrative, ranging from $850 to $1,200, with the promise of an increase after the first three months of employment.
Believing Thao's deceptive information, K. shared details of the supposed 'good job opportunity' with four of her relatives, who then agreed to accompany Thao to Cambodia to apply for the same job.
Four days later, Thao took K. and four others to enter Cambodia by illegally crossing the border in Vietnam’s southwestern Tay Ninh Province.
After sending the five people to the gambling establishment, Thao immediately returned to Vietnam.
The manager of the establishment seized the personal identification papers of all five and forced them to sign documents written in Cambodian or Chinese.
K. and her four relatives were forced to work 11-12 hours per day, luring and guiding the establishment’s customers to pay money for their online games.
They were paid only $500-600 per month and were compelled to compensate the firm with $1,000 - 2,000 when they worked less than the required number of hours in a month.
They had to work in closed areas, always guarded by security personnel. Those who worked ineffectively or were disobedient would be sold to another company.
With the same trick, Thao continued sending four other people to the same company on December 20, 2020.
She got a total amount of $2,700 from the firm as the brokerage fee for introducing nine people.
Seven of these nine later tried to escape from the establishment, but only two of them were successful.
The reports from the escapees helped Cambodian authorities rescue the remaining victims from the establishment later and also led to Thao’s arrest.