Enslaved: An Investigation


Workers trapped in Cambodian human-trafficking hubs are forced to perpetrate massive global scams



The burnt down Grand Diamond Casino in Poipet city on December 31, 2022. (Michael Dickison/VOD)

Casino Cleaner Recalls Three Hours in Poipet Inferno

Workers stuck inside the Grand Diamond City Casino told VOD their harrowing accounts of escaping the burning buildings, with the incident also raising serious questions about fire safety measures in the casino.

Enslavement, Violent Crimes and Rule by Law: Justice 2022

“Peace” is written across every local and central government building in Cambodia, but not always found within them. This year has been marked by episodes of abuse and corruption from government officials, as well as intimidation against whistleblowers and journalists. 

A bridge connects two separate sections of the Thmor Da SEZ. (Tran Techseng/VOD)

Sar Kheng Attacks Police Excuses in Scam Trafficking

The dusty road outside tycoon Try Pheap’s Thmor Da SEZ in Pursat is empty. But behind locked metal gates, its shabby buildings appear full of inhabitants. Interior Minister Sar Kheng this week called out police excuses in their crackdown on scam compounds, urging vigilance.

Scam Workers Relocated From Cambodia to Laos, Myanmar

Amid targeted raids and arrests against scam and human trafficking operations in Cambodia, accounts from victims and a rescue group indicate that at least some syndicates are going to great lengths to relocate workers to a new country to evade capture.

Workers compounds in Svay Rieng’s Bavet city on October 7, 2022. (Michael Dickison/VOD)

Echoes of Sihanoukville Troubles in Cambodian Border Town

As police raids have hit known scam locations and “illegal gambling” dens across the country, residents of casino haven Bavet say they have seen buses ferrying in hundreds of workers over the last few weeks to existing casinos and alleged scam compounds in the border town.

The "Welcome to Batam" sign on a hillside in Batam city, Indonesia on July 16, 2022. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Learning to Scam Under the Threat of Tasers

Indonesian nationals rescued from a Phnom Penh scam compound say they were targeting Facebook users every day to cheat them out of thousands of dollars. Most are relieved to have gotten away from the criminal work and threat of violence that hovered over them.

Police in Sihanoukville in September 2022. (Mech Dara/VOD)

Eerie Silence Descends on Notorious Sihanoukville Scam Compounds

Nearly 9,000 phones were seized from a Sihanoukville compound and barbed wire cut from the notorious “Chinatown” area. As human trafficking raids target compounds across the city, residents say other buildings appear to be quietly emptying of foreign workers.

Sihanoukville’s Kaibo compound on August 6, 2022. Shown these photos, Bao confirmed he was held in these compounds. (Michael Dickison/VOD)

Behind a Slave Rescue From a Cambodian Scam Operation

A Vietnamese family took out loans against their family home to help their son escape enslavement in Cambodia. They scrambled to organize a cross-border rescue from a scam syndicate accused of torture and trafficking, asking VOD for assistance.

The two images on the left show the Long Bay Duty Free Shop and Long Bay Casino Hotel from posts on Zheng Heng Group's website, while the image to the right is a screenshot of the same buildings. (Supplied)

Rescue Reveals Scam Compound at Koh Kong’s UDG

A Taiwanese man came to Cambodia to try to get his stepson out of forced labor in Koh Kong’s Union Development Group concession, but complications arose after the father reported the case to local authorities.

Underground Group Chat Teems With Human Trafficking Ads

Every day, posters come to the “White Shark Channel” to plug their services or seek those of others. People smugglers, bounty hunters and even scammers looking for new jobs in the industry are networking in the Telegram group.

White-Hat Hacker Infiltrates Cambodian Scam Operations

A notorious Vietnamese ex-hacker infiltrated Cambodian scam operations’ computers after entrapped workers reached out for help. He collected thousands of internal chat messages and documented the workings of their fake online investment schemes.

The barbed wire fence surrounding a building complex, called "Jincai" by one worker, where workers are allegedly detained to perpetuate scams, on May 30, 2022. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

‘How to Help Them?’ Volunteer Stonewalled in Scam Worker Rescues

Seeking the rescue of 11 men allegedly entrapped at scam operations, a volunteer visited three commune police stations, Sihanoukville city and provincial authorities, and sent messages to officials and a police hotline. None were released, and two groups faced consequences.