Hundreds of thousands forced into cyber crime in Asia- UN

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Geneva.

Criminal gangs are forcing hundreds of thousands of people in south-east Asia into cybercrime, according to a UN report on Tuesday.

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At least 120,000 people are believed to be affected in Myanmar alone, with 100,000 more in Cambodia.

There are also tens of thousands of victims in Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines, the UN human rights office said in Geneva.

Further victims are brought to other countries by traffickers.

The gangs use these people for crypto fraud, betting operations, and extortion, for example through love scams.

In the latter case, they approach people looking for contact via dating platforms, flatter them, and later fraudulently ask for money, either for fictitious sick relatives or to build a shared future together.

“They are victims. They are not criminals,” said the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, who underlined that people are forced into these illegal acts.

The gangs often recruit migrants in desperate need of money and threaten them and their families if they resist, the report says.

Many hundreds of thousands of people in the region lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making them particularly vulnerable to recruitment by gangs.

Many are well-educated people, often with knowledge of foreign languages, and some are computer specialists.

Once recruited, many of the victims are tortured and abused.

The UN estimates that the gangs have made billions in profits from the criminal activity

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