Nearly 30 villagers from Takeo and Kampot provinces are seeking help after being cheated by a recruitment firm that advertised high-paying jobs abroad through radio station commercials.
The villagers were tricked by Fruit Picking Australia Ltd, which was located in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey district.
The company collected between $150 and $250 from each victim, promising to prepare documents to send workers to well paid jobs in China and Hong Kong.
The incident came as the Ministry of Information last week sent a letter to radio stations ordering them to immediately cease advertisements from recruitment agencies looking to send migrant workers abroad.
The order followed a suggestion made by the Labour Ministry last month, which said nefarious recruitment agencies that exploited workers were airing ads for their businesses over the radio.
Heng Phan, a representative of the victims, said the villagers had heard radio adverts promoting jobs with alleged monthly salaries of between $900 and $1,200.
He said victims with passports paid $150 to access the supposed jobs, while those without travel documents gave $250 to the firm.
“The villagers paid the company and they promised us we would leave to travel abroad in June, but then the firm went silent. We went to Phnom Penh to see their office, but it had closed down and they had escaped,” he said.
He added that victims wanted their money back, plus sensitive documents including ID cards, family books, passports and other paperwork.
Sam Chankea, a spokesman for the rights group Adhoc, said the victims would file an official complaint on the matter tomorrow.
“Representatives of the firm fled and took their company’s sign. No one has taken responsibility,” he said.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said in a letter to radio station owners last week that they must stop airing the ads because some were coming from criminal enterprises.
Fruit Picking Australia Ltd is not on the Labour Ministry’s list of 77 legal recruitment firms.