11 July 2024

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised job seekers to exercise great caution when responding to online offers of highly paid jobs in Cambodia, Myanmar or the Philippines, saying that they may end up being victimised and paying a large ransom for their safe return to Thailand.

Tanee Sangrat, spokesman for the ministry, said that Thai embassies in the three countries have received many appeals for help from Thai citizens, who complained of being cheated by their employers, forced to work against their will, detained or assaulted if they refused to work as ordered or told to ask their relatives back in Thailand to pay a large ransom if they want to return to Thailand.

This advice applies especially to attractive Thai women, who want to work as receptionists at casinos, hotels or in entertainment venues in Myanmar, with promises of high pay, free accommodation and food, said Tanee. He warned that there have been many cases of Thai women, who were fooled by such promises and ended up being sent to towns near China’s southern border, under the control of armed minority groups, and forced into prostitution.

If the women refuse, he said they are detained, assaulted or even resold to other employers and, again, forced into prostitution, unless they can arrange for a ransom to be paid for their safe return to Thailand.

Tanee admitted, however, that providing help for victims held captive in areas controlled by armed groups is difficult, because of the limited access to such places, adding that the victims, after having paid the ransom, may face legal action by Myanmar authorities, because most of them did not enter the country legally.

Regarding the job offers in Cambodia, Tanee said that job seekers will normally be advised by their Thai employment brokers to sneak into Cambodia at night, through the border in Sa Kaeo province, along which there is a risk of encountering landmines.

Once on Cambodian soil, they will be picked up by their Cambodian contacts, who will have them sent to the port city of Sihanoukville, where they will be forced to work at a call centre, luring lure Thai people back home into gambling online.

Thai job seekers in the Philippines are facing similar fates and help for them may be time consuming and will have to go through the Philippine legal process, said Tanee. He advised Thai job seekers to apply for jobs offered by government agencies or credible private firms, to avoid being cheated.

Information about legitimate job opportunities is available from the Employment Department of the Thai Ministry of Labour, he added.