BEIJING, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Chinese online classifieds platform 58.com has come under heavy criticism in China after a Chinese national said he was deceived by one of his job postings to become a victim of a human trafficking network in Cambodia.

The company, China’s equivalent of Craigslist, told state media on Thursday it would cooperate with a police investigation in Cambodia, though it had “not yet established” whether the fraudulent job posting was listed. on its platform.

On Wednesday, the Beijing Youth Daily published an interview with the man who said he was trafficked last June after traveling to the southwest region of Guangxi in response to one of 58 job offers. com to work as a nightclub bouncer.

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He said he was smuggled into the Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville by a criminal gang and later forced to work for various telemarketing fraud schemes. In September, his captors began taking repeated blood samples from him after he refused to work, putting his life in danger.

The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia in a statement on Thursday gave his last name as Li and confirmed parts of his story, but did not mention 58.com.

“The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia once again reminds Chinese citizens who wish to work in Cambodia to follow official channels and not to believe false advertisements for high-paying jobs,” the statement said.

Sihanoukville has seen a sharp increase in Chinese investment and immigration in recent years, mainly in the casino sector, which is banned in mainland China.

Illegal online gambling operations targeting the mainland market are often conducted in overseas territories such as Cambodia or the Philippines, where enforcement is less stringent.

58.com’s response to state media went viral on Friday, attracting more than 200 million views on Chinese social media platform Weibo, where users accused 58.com of a wide range of contrary practices to ethics, from the high number of scams on the blind platform. buying and selling user data.

58.com could not immediately be reached for comment. In 2020, the company was taken private by a consortium of investors backed by private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic.

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Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Brenda Goh

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