Hong Kong authorities have received reports of an additional three residents who allegedly fell victim to traffickers and were being held overseas, an official has said.

The news came as local media reported that one Hongkonger who fell prey to a false job ad was stopped from returning to the city because he did not have a quarantine hotel booking.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok
An airport in Bangkok. File photo: Markus Winkler, via Pexels.

Speaking on RTHK on Friday morning, the Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk said the Security Bureau received three more calls for help on Thursday. One alleged victim was believed to be in Thailand whereas the other two were Cambodia, Cheuk said, although their exact locations were not yet known.

Cheuk said their freedom was restricted but they were safe.

A number of Hongkongers have fallen for job scams and been detained in Southeast Asian countries in recent months, eight of whom are still missing in Myanmar.

Meanwhile, local media reported that a man who was allegedly lured to Thailand by false job ads was unable to leave the country because of Hong Kong’s Covid-related border restrictions.

Isolation hotel
The Secretary for Security Chris Tang inspects a designated quarantine hotel. File photo: GovHK.

The father of the victim told HK01 and Ming Pao that his son had flown to Thailand in July by himself after seeing online job postings, but regretted his move shortly after arrival.

The son then bought a return flight but was unable to board the plane because he had not booked a designated quarantine hotel in Hong Kong.

The father said he had called the Department of Health to ask for an exemption, but had been told that the case was a police matter. The father said that the family had reported the case to police earlier.

After being stranded in a Bangkok airport for few days, the son was eventually captured by an alleged gang of scammers and taken to Myanmar, where he remains.

Under Secretary for Security, Mr Michael Cheuk Hau-yip..jpg
Under Secretary for Security, Mr Michael Cheuk Hau-yip. Photo: GovHK.

When asked about the case on Friday’s radio programme, Cheuk said the authorities hoped to contact the alleged victim. “Until now, I had not received news of a case of this nature,” he said.

The official said authorities would help with the quarantine arrangements for any Hongkongers trapped overseas.

“In fact, among those who have successfully returned to Hong Kong, some have stayed in quarantine facilities specifically arranged by us,” he added.

Cheuk told reporters on Thursday afternoon that authorities had been able to confirm the safety of 12 victims, 10 of whom had already returned to the city.

DAB plans Southeast Asia visits

Lawmakers from Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, the DAB, are set to visit Thailand and four other Southeast Asian countries in September amid an increase in reports of trafficking scams, Ming Pao reported on Friday.

The party’s vice-chairperson Chan Yung told the newspaper that they might be able to better understand the situation and raise the issue with Chinese embassies there.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.