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JOB SCAM/Heavier penalties imposed on 4 involved in Cambodia fraud operation

02/07/2024 06:21 PM
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A woman surnamed Chen (right) is in police custody in this file photo released by the police on Aug. 29, 2023.
A woman surnamed Chen (right) is in police custody in this file photo released by the police on Aug. 29, 2023.

Kaohsiung, Feb. 7 (CNA) Four people found guilty of human trafficking for forcing people from Pingtung County to work for a Cambodia-based telecoms fraud operation have been handed down harsher sentences by the Taiwan High Court Kaohsiung Branch Court.

The four defendants had their jail sentences increased to between one year and seven months and three years and eight months after it was found they voluntarily joined the ring and celebrated the success of the operation with other members in Cambodia, according to the court.

The verdicts can be appealed.

Previously, the Pingtung District Court said the four people -- three women identified by their last names Chen (陳), Lai (賴), and Chou (周), and a man surnamed Lin (林) -- claimed that they were beaten and forced to make arrangements for the gang, including duping people into leaving Taiwan and forging documents.

As a result, the lower court previously handed down jail terms between 11 months, and two years and two months to the four people. Lin received a two-year sentence but was eligible for a five-year suspended sentence.

However, in the second trial, the High Court discovered that Chen, Lai, and Chou had voluntarily decided to stay in Cambodia, and were never physically punished by other members as they had previously claimed.

The court added that the three female defendants even hung out with the core members of the ring and attended celebration parties hosted by the fraud squad at hotels, leading the judges to decide to increase their jail terms.

Chen received a jail sentence of three years and eight months, while Lai was sentenced to three years and two months. Meanwhile, Lin received two years, and Chou one year and seven months, according to the court.

The verdict showed that Chen, Lai, and Chou joined the criminal gang which was known by various names, including, "Wan Yuan Corp.", "Wan Li Corp." and "Wan Ku Corp." in 2022, and helped post fake job adverts with salaries of NT$40,000 (US$1,285) per month.

Lin, meanwhile, was responsible for preparing all necessary arrangements in Taiwan before the new hires departed for Cambodia, including providing forged COVID-19 vaccine certificates mandatory for international travel, the court documents stated.

According to Taiwanese authorities, 10 people, including some underage individuals, have been identified as having been duped into going to Cambodia.

The case was not disclosed until family members of eight people trapped in Cambodia paid ransom to the ring and the victims returned to Taiwan.

(By Hung Hsueh-kuang and Evelyn Yang)

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