KUALA LUMPUR: The family members of eight youths who are believed to have been duped to work for syndicates involved in scams have come forward to appeal for help in “recovering” their children.

Having little to no information on the whereabouts of the eight youths, the families have sought the help of MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong.

One of them, who only wanted to be known as Chen, claimed that his 24-year-old younger sister had apparently flown to Thailand to work with six friends, including another girl. Chen, who is from Hulu Selangor, said he was not notified when his sister left the country.

“I only learned about her situation from one of her friends, that they had been abandoned by the syndicate not long after arriving.

“I am not sure of her location, but she and three other male friends were eventually detained when attempting to cross the Thai border from Myanmar,” he said, adding that the whereabouts of another three males were unknown.

Chen noted that his sister had never relayed her intention to work overseas to anyone in the family.

Another parent, Chai, from Teluk Intan, said he had no idea if his 24-year-old son, who had been missing since March 9, was detained.

The mother of another youth who only wanted to be identified as Madam Yong, said her 22-year-old son, who was duped to work in Thailand, had asked for a sum of money so that he could be released from captivity.

She said he had quietly travelled to Thailand with a friend on Jan 19, and only called her three days later.

“My son was an undergraduate in China and came back after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“His passport has expired and I suspect he travelled there through illegal routes,” she said, adding that she had also lodged a police report.

Yong, from Puchong, said attempts to call or text his son fell through sometimes as her son told her that his phone was often confiscated at his workplace.

“On March 13, I got to talk to him when he contacted me using another number.

“He told me it was hard there and that he was made to work up to 16 hours a day, otherwise he would be beaten up,” she said, adding that the following day, her son called her from his own number, crying and begging for her to pay RM100,000 to set him free.

“I feel devastated because I cannot afford it. Then the next day, he called and said the people there agreed to reduce the price to RM60,000,” said Yong, who added that the price was eventually lowered to RM25,000, with her son saying the matter would be “sorted out by a local in Malaysia”.

“I have not paid anything so far,” she said, adding that she believed her son was in Myanmar.

Chong said it is believed that the syndicate had abandoned the seven youths as news reports of people being duped to work for them garnered attention.

He said initial investigations showed that the four who have been arrested are now in the Mae Sot district, a border town in western Thailand.

“Ever since such syndicates and cases were uncovered, not even 10% of Malaysian youths have been successfully rescued so far.

“Our latest records show that there are 18 Malaysian youths who were enticed to go to Myanmar.

“Eight of them were rescued two days ago, and are under the custody of the Thai Immigration authorities,” he said as he called on Malaysian youths not to fall prey to any overseas job advertisements promising high pay.

Chong also noted that his department will work together with MCA National Youth executive secretary Goh Boon Huat to help with these cases.