A man who responded to an ad on 58.com for a job as a nightclub bouncer had his trip turn into a nightmare. The posting was a ruse that ended in kidnapping, extortion, and desanguination when he refused to participate in an illegal gambling operation.
Authorities in the Cambodian province of Preah Sihanouk confirmed that a Chinese national claimed to have been drugged and sent from Vietnam to Cambodia. There, his captors removed 1.5 pints of blood each day. The blood was allegedly sold by his kidnappers for profit.
It all started when the man saw an ad on 58.com, the Chinese equivalent of Craigslist. The ad mentioned lucrative jobs in China’s Guangxi Province near the Vietnamese border. However, the ad was posted by a criminal gang.
They tried to force the man, only identified by his last name of Li, into working the phones in a telemarketing scam. Initial reports by Reuters said the operations covered a lot of different activity, including illegal gambling.
When he refused to participate, the gang kidnapped Li and sent him to Sihanoukville. There, for six weeks, he suffered a daily ritual of desanguination. The gang reportedly withdrew the blood to sell. However, details of that operation aren’t available.
It’s not clear how Li managed to escape, or which online websites he worked for. Still, it’s difficult to imagine that he would have been the only victim in the human trafficking ring.
58.com Has Ties to US Investors
Thursday’s statement from the Chinese government office in Cambodia confirmed that Li was the victim’s last name and verified parts of his story. However, there was no direction mention by the government of the 58.com connection.
Clients blamed the website 58.com because of a variety of unethical practices they have uncovered. These include scams, shady purchases, and the sale of client information, according to the users.
In 2020, 58.com went private with the help of a group of financial backers. These found support from private equity firms, including Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic. Both are New York-based investment companies.
Sihanoukville Becomes No Man’s Land
Sihanoukville has seen an influx of Chinese business and movement in recent years, primarily in gambling, which is not allowed in mainland China.
Last November, three Cambodian workers were held captive by a human trafficker in Sihanoukville after being lured by a promise of a high-paying job. Radio Free Asia reported the incident, bringing to light an ongoing issue in the region. The kidnapping was orchestrated by a man running an illegal online gambling site.
Despite the fact that the government is actively trying to dismantle illegal gambling because of pressure from China, the number of people engaging in illegal activities, including gambling, continues to rise.
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