Xiao Li (a pseudonym) did not expect that an answering a recruitment advert online would turn out to be the darkest and longest months of his life.
A few days ago, a reporter from China Youth Daily had the opportunity to communicate with Xiao Li and listen to his story about his tortuous, bizarre, and dangerous experiences in the past few months.
High-paying job advertisements- falling into the trap
One day after the Spring Festival in 2021, Xiao Li, who was in his early 20s and unemployed at home, was thinking about finding suitable job opportunities online.
A job advertisement on a city’s website aroused Xiao Lis interest: “A group recruits high-paying typists, customer service specialists and other positions. The job is located in Guangxi. After the job, the board and lodging company are all inclusive. In addition to the basic salary, there are monthly performance bonuses and commissions.”
The company sounded good, and there wee no requirements for work experience or academic qualifications. Although the location was far away from his home, Xiao Li felt it was worth a try, so he booked a high-speed rail ticket to Nanning, Guangxi.
“After I arrived in Nanning, the company arranged for me to stay in a hotel for two days, and then said they would drive me to the company to apply for a job. There were several other young people in the car who didnt know each other, but it was assumed that they were all applying for the job together. Xiao Li didn’t think much, so he got into a Jinbei car, which drove from Nanning to Chongzuo. After arriving at Chongzuo, the driver did not stop, but continued to drive to the suburbs. The sky was getting darker and the surrounding area became more and more remote. Xiao Li felt that something was wrong, so he asked the “Company Reception Specialist” but was scolded.
Xiao Li began to be scared. The car finally stopped after driving for nearly 30 minutes, and it was already dark at this time. Xiao Li turned on the phone and took a look at the location through the weak network signal, only to see that he was near the “Friendship Pass” on the Sino-Vietnamese border.
From Vietnam to Cambodia, the long and horrifying road of “smuggling”
Xiao Li recalled: “After getting off, our group was driven on the mountain road and we were not allowed to turn on mobile phone lighting. No one dared to run, and did not know where to run. After walking for I don’t know how long, we finally climbed over a fence and saw two people who came to meet us. We followed for nearly 3 hours, climbing mountains and muddy ground, and finally saw lights, houses and some writing in foreign characters. At this time, I realized that I was out of the country. To make matters worse, his mobile phone had no signal at all, and the battery was almost dead.
Xiao Li and his party were picked up on motorcycles by a group of Vietnamese who had been waiting. After a few more hours of bumpy roads, the motorcycle finally drove to a slightly crowded place. Immediately afterwards, Xiao Li was transferred into a commercial vehicle, which drove from early morning until dawn. “We were thrown into a room and locked up. We were separated and picked up by two commercial vehicles in the early morning of the third day. A few hours later, they put into a double-decker bus, which drove to Ho Chi Minh City.
After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, Xiao Li was transferred again and he was stuffed into a Toyota commercial vehicle and taken to the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Xiao Li said: “We arrived at a river on the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, and a boat came to pick me up. I was asked to lie flat in the boat, covered with a layer of black cloth. I walked on the marshland for nearly 3 hours after reaching the shore.”
He then got on a small boat again and arrived near a city a few hours later and was picked up by a car. This time it was a Chinese who drove. “He told us that we are now in Phnom Penh , Cambodia , and we are going to Sihanoukville next.”
After several days of horrifying “smuggling”, Xiao Li was tired, sleepy and dirty. When he opened his eyes again, the car had already reached the gate of the “XX City” park in Sihanoukville.
The company’s “personnel” picked up Xiao Li at the door, confiscated his mobile phone, and took him to arrange dormitory and “entry”. On the second day, the company began “business training” for Xiao Li. After receiving the “training materials”, Xiao Li suddenly realized: This was not the job of a “typist” or a “customer service specialist” at all, but the “Internet fraud” often seen on TV in the past.
The company he reached and even the entire park was a den of “Internet fraud”.
Pretending to be ill and fleeing but being beaten and blackmailed.
Thinking that what he was going to do was a fraud, Xiao Li’s heart was full of resistance. He made up his mind to find a way to get out of here.
These so-called “parks” are actually more like closed communities. The entrances and exits of the communities are guarded by security personnel to strictly control entry and exit. Even each building in the community has only one entrance and one set of access control systems.
People working in the “park” can’t even leave the building. Xiao Li later learned that some people who wanted to escape were finally caught, taken back, tortured and abused. Only a few days after he arrived, Xiao Li heard these stories, and he felt that he couldn’t force himself to escape.
“I had a hot compress that day for a long time, then I reported to the personnel that I had a fever, and then I was taken to the clinic in the park to take my temperature. After that, I was taken to a hotel outside the park and locked up for two days.
On the third day, someone came. I did a COVID test and found that the result was negative, and I was transferred to another place. There were several other people in the room, and I found out that they were the same as me, and they were also people who didn’t want to engage in fraud. “
A few hours later, Xiao Li was taken away by another group of people and locked up in a “single room.” Several people began to beat Xiao Li with sticks and electric batons, and asked him to call his family members, and they would not let him go unless he paid 100,000 yuan ($15,000).
Xiao Li’s family didn’t believe that he was in Cambodia and was kidnapped for blackmail at first, until they recorded a video of Xiao Li being beaten up and sent it to his parents.
Because Xiao Li’s family didn’t collect the 100,000 yuan ransom for a while, Xiao Li was kept in a small black room for three days and only gave instant noodles for three days.
At noon on the third day, a person who looked like the leader of the kidnapping gang brought Xiao Li’s mobile phone to ask for the payment code. Xiao Li didn’t want to say, so the man took out a gun and pointed it at Xiao Li’s head. Xiao Li could only shiver and transferred all the money in WeChat and Alipay to them. In the afternoon, another group of people came to pick up Xiao Li. Xiao Li learned that he was released because his family paid the ransom. However, Xiao Li still did not get his freedom, but was sold by the last gang to another online fraud company for $6,000.
After all the twists and turns, he finally returned to his motherland. When he entered the new company, Xiao Li had been beaten and bruised all over his body. He was already extremely weak and lost contact with his family again. After getting a respite for two or three days, the “personnel” of the new company began to “brainwash” him, telling him that this kind of work is not difficult, just follow the company’s prepared scripts and words to chat with “customers”. And the commission is very high, and the money earned is enough to make up for the previous loss to the family.
At this point, Xiao Li could only choose to survive first, and then find a way to escape. After receiving the “training” and getting his work phone, Xiao Li registered WeChat and contacted his family again. Xiao Li’s family tried every means and finally contacted an official of the Cambodian police. Xiao Li said: “That night, a person in charge of the company came to me and he had a picture of me on his mobile phone. He asked me to sign an agreement and said that I can go. The person in the company put something over my head, squeezed me into a car, drove for more than 10 minutes and then stopped. Then the door opened and I was kicked out of the car. I was rescued.”
Later, with the help of many kind compatriots, Xiao Li boarded a plane returning home. When the reporter interviewed Xiao Li, Xiao Li had returned home safely, but he was still in isolation and had not yet been with his family. When recalling and telling the experience of the past few months, Xiao Li paused several times, trying to calm his emotions.
He said: “This is a nightmare. Although nine deaths and a lifetime, I am relatively lucky because I am now returning home safely. Those people who were smuggled out of the country and came to Cambodia with me at that time were locked up with me. People in the house, I don’t know how they are now.”
According to the Ministry of Public Security of China, on September 28, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng attended the Ministry of Public Security of China and Cambodia’s internal affairs video meeting on continuing to advance the “China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Year”.
The two sides decided to continue the “China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Year” campaign, jointly crack down on illegal and criminal activities such as telecom fraud and online gambling in accordance with the law, strengthen cooperation in the prevention of political security risks, drug control and law enforcement capacity building, and continue to promote the building of a China-Cambodia community with a shared future.
Source Tun Yun- China Youth Daily