FBI Warns of Crypto Human Trafficking Rings in Asia

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The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning on fake job ads that lure people to Southeast Asia, where “victims are held against their will and forced to commit international crypto scams on unsuspecting victims.”

These scam mills usually put up ads on social media and lure their victims by promising well-paid jobs. Upon arrival, however, victims have their passports taken and are forced to work by scamming innocent people. Furthermore, if workers were unsuccessful, they would reportedly face torture, abuse, murder, or be sold to another gang.

FBI Issues Warning

According to the press release, the FBI warned US citizens and individuals living or traveling abroad to be cautious of false job advertisements linked to labor trafficking. The intelligence service said threat actors target victims, primarily in Asia, in employment fraud schemes by posting false job advertisements on social media and online employment sites.

The fake jobs could range from tech support, call center customer service, and beauty salon technicians, the FBI stated. Lucrative benefits, salaries, and accommodation are offered in order to lure victims.

“Often throughout the process, the location for the position is shifted from the advertised location. Upon job seekers’ arrival in the foreign country, criminal actors use multiple means to coerce them to commit cryptocurrency investment schemes, such as confiscation of passports and travel documents, the threat of violence, and use of violence.”

The victims are then forced to must pay off mounting debt – travel fees, room, and board. When the debt gets worse when they’re often sold to other criminal groups.

The FBI has detailed a few steps to avoid falling into such traps. This includes researching the advertised company before accepting a job offer, as well as keeping an eye out for “vague language” about the company or limited employment details. Job-seekers should also be wary of advertisements with unusually high salaries and many perks.

Crypto Scam Rings

The latest warning comes amidst numerous reports of crypto scam rings using enslaved individuals. In November last year, the Cambodian government found itself on the receiving end of severe backlash for allegedly turning a blind eye to Chinese crime rings that human trafficked almost 100,000 migrant workers and forced them to run online scams, including fraudulent crypto ICOs.

More recently, Philippine National Police (PNP) rescued 1,000 human trafficking victims who were forced to toil up to 18 hours a day for cryptocurrency scams earlier this month. After busting the scam ring, the authorities arrested 12 suspected ringleaders.

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