Did You Text with a Slave in Burma Over Your Morning Coffee? 

Recent reports have uncovered a disturbing trend of forced labor camps in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where individuals are kidnapped and coerced into participating in online scam operations targeting Americans. These camps, often situated near the Thai border, are run by criminal gangs that exploit victims to defraud people out of millions of dollars. The victims are typically lured with false job promises, then held against their will and made to engage in “pig butchering” scams—a term for a type of fraud that builds trust with a victim before convincing them to invest in fake ventures, leading to significant financial losses.

You’ve probably communicated directly with a slave held in a Burmese prison camp, in fact. 

The scam typically begins with a text message that appears to be an innocent mistake, often from someone who seems to have sent a message to the wrong number. The message might ask a simple question or start with a casual greeting like “Hi! Is this Jeremy?” If the recipient responds, the scammer will apologize for the “wrong number” and engage in friendly conversation.

As the interaction progresses, the scammer’s goal is to build a rapport with the potential victim. Eventually, they will introduce a deceptive proposition, such as an investment opportunity or a request for personal information. These scams can be quite sophisticated, leveraging psychological tactics to manipulate individuals into trusting the scammer.

You almost certainly ignored this friendly seeming scammer, because, after all, why would someone be so nice to you? Maybe you even responded with a bit of blunt sarcasm. 

But as Jon Oliver noted on Last Week Tonight, if you did, you’re taking out your frustration on the wrong person. These slaves aren’t any happier about trying to scam you than you are about being scammed, and probably less. They’re honest citizens, generally from  Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Nepal, and the Philippines, who’d expected to move abroad for a few years for a better paying job. Now they might never see home again, or the outside of their prison camp. 

So yesterday, upon receiving one of these messages yesterday, one of our writers, tried a bit of compassion. 

He expected no response; he thought that maybe a kind word would help. Maybe not. But he didn’t expect the conversation to continue. 

But the captive scammer wrote this:

And that was all. 

We know where these people are, right down to the precise coordinates. We know who’s in charge. We know what they’re using to guard the prison camps: 1950-style weapons. And we know the result of inaction, many thousands of trafficked and ultimately often murdered slaves, and billions of dollars of American savings lost. 

Seems like something could be done. 


Content: Oblivioni. Image: Donald Tong/Pexels.

Stay in the Know

Sign up for our newsletter.

Email List Subscribe Form