In February 2017, Taiwanese nationals Bo-Syun Chen and Yu-Hao Huang, both pleaded guilty to causing a person to enter into or remain in servitude.
This was the first prosecution and sentence for an offence of causing a person to enter into or remain in servitude since amendments in 2013 broadened the conduct covered by that offence from only sexual servitude to all forms of servitude.
Huang and Chen ran two fraudulent call centres out of residences in Brisbane. The call centres were staffed by other Taiwanese nationals who were forced to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week, for no pay. The call centre operators each had to learn a script and make up to 60 calls per shift which were designed to trick wealthy Chinese citizens into revealing their bank balances, pretend they were suspected of money laundering, and demand that they pay a large fine in return for not being prosecuted.
An Australian Federal Police investigation commenced following the escape of one of the workers from one of the houses. When search warrants were executed, it was found that there were 49 workers at the two locations. Workers advised of strict rules around their work as well as eating, showering and sleeping.
Huang, who was the boss of the house and fraud operation at one of the houses, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for causing a person to enter into or remain in servitude, with release on recognisance after serving 548 days.
Chen, who was second in command at the house, was sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment for causing a person to enter into or remain in servitude, with release on recognisance after serving 541 days.
DPP (Cth) v Huang & Another, Unreported (QLDDC, 8 February 2017)