17 Comments

Hey P.J.,

I work for a global non-profit organization called IJM that has been working to combat trafficking at these forced scamming compounds for a few years now. If you want to talk with some experts within our organization who have frontline experience with the situation in Cambodia and other countries in SE Asia, I'd be happy to connect you. We can address everything from "how to respond to these messages" to "what, if anything, can we do to help?"

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Hey Patrick, I appreciate you willing to publicly come out and say this, but you also haven't provided those resources here nor can I find them on your site. Is there a reason you aren't forthcoming? I'm a IJM fan and would happily take on the role of responding to these in a way you have found to be effective, but saying you have a resource and then remaining silent leaves me to my own devices, where I often just respond back to these people directly telling them I know they are in Cambodia and sharing with them my wishes they'd find freedom and peace, and informing them others have done so. If you'd like to multiply your impact here, I'd strongly advise giving people a resource as many more learn about the spam compounds. IJM is probably the only organization on earth qualified to do so.

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@patrick will you please share with us, as @Kyle has suggested?

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I would love to know how to respond to these messages!

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Loved this one, it’s exactly the kind of story I miss about Reply All and hope you’ll keep doing here. We travelled through Sihanoukville to a tiny island for new year 2010, it was definitely shady back then, but would never have imagined this. Awful story, brilliantly told. ☆☆☆☆☆

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Definitely one of my favorites so far

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This was a fantastic episode. Probably one of my favorites. Great work.

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Thanks so much for this story, PJ. I get these texts at least once a week; sometimes I play along, other times I just delete.

Did your guests talk about what we should do when we get at text? That is to say, if the sender really is a slave/prisoner, does it help them at all to respond? Or should we immediately delete? Wondering if one is better than the other for the individuals.

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founding

This is one of your best episodes yet, and that’s saying something. I have loved loved loved these stories and this was a wild ride.

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I work in fashion studies and this story has a lot of parallels to the counterfeit industry. Fake bags, watches, shirts, shoes, etc. are EVERYWHERE - sold online, displayed on blankets on street corners, and in small shops across the globe. Rarely does anyone stop to think about the people who actually make those objects. Unfortunately, it's almost always trafficked workers held against their will with no way out, working brutally long days with impossible quotas to meet. Counterfeit goods largely support organized crime and terrorism, it's a massive global industry (2 trillion dollars worth sold every year). I see posts almost every day in social media asking for recommendations on where to get the most convincing/cheapest/best fake "insert luxury item here." When I point out that fakes are made by slave labor in horrendous working conditions and that the money you spend supports the mob and terrorism, the usual response is an eye roll.

I will never be able to look at one of those desperate texts the same way again, thank you for this incredible reporting.

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PJ please keep up these investigative reporting episodes. This is more of the style I like from reply all days.

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This podcast came at a crazy time, like a few minutes I received two of these texts. It's funny how I had only received a handful before, but then started noticing them more and more after the episode. I personally do not respond. I wish everyone knew not to respond. If no one paid attention to them, there'd be no market, no profit, and the boss-lords would not profit from the trafficking.

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I used to work for a chat bot software and we got these messages multiple times daily. I always thought it was a bot trying to scam a bot. The messages were often a variation of, “I finally left my cheating spouse, let’s go out for drinks!” but I was so confused on what the actual scam was. Never once did I consider it could be related to crypto let alone human trafficking. What a trip. Sending this episode to all my old coworkers immediately!

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Haven’t received this kind of texts in a while but this episode answered many questions I had. Thank you great American journalism 🫡

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What about political texts hounding for money? Seems like a scam. Could provide more info if you're not sure what I'm talking about.

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This story shocked me because it was so unexpected. I've gotten a few of these messages and responded innocuously not thinking anything of it. I stopped responding after a while because i thought, "if it's a wrong number, why do they want to make friends with me?" It was so weird, but I feel really bad for these people. Such a great episode, Search Engine team!

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Great episode. I'd already read Number Go Up, so I was familiar with the basic outlines of the story, but your coverage added a lot. BTW I really enjoyed Number Go Up!

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