JOHOR BARU (The Star/Asia News Network) - About 50 farmers from China gave up their life savings and farms and paid between RM12,000 (S$3,800) and RM38,000 each to an agent who promised them high-paying jobs at a construction site in Johor.
But the jobs at the "well-known" construction site never existed.
And now, the farmers are stranded at the Senai International Airport, which they have made their temporary home.
One of the farmers, Wang Fuguo, 39, from Jilin, said some of them have fallen sick as they have not been eating or sleeping well.
"Our sleep is always disrupted by the airport security guards who would chase us away," Wang said. "We found it difficult to explain our situation because of our limited English and Malay."
The farmers had sold their lands, herds of cattle, while some borrowed money from friends and family, to raise between 20,000 yuan (S$4,000) to 60,000 yuan each to pay to an agent company.
The farmers, who come from different parts of China including Jilin, Szechuan and Henan, arrived here in batches from April 10.
They were received by the agent at the airport and taken to a construction site, which The Star learnt is located in Gelang Patah.
They agent left them there and did not return.
After learning that they had been duped, the group made their way back to the airport.
They later discovered that their "work visas" that the agent had applied for them in China were actually social visit passes.
With little money left on them, the group has been staying at the airport and surviving on bread and biscuits.
Wang said he sold his farm and cattle, and paid the agent with his hard-earned money to come to Malaysia.
He said he only accepted the construction job offer from the agent because he wanted to give a better future for his family.
Another farmer, Shi Chuanyi, 46, said the agent told him that the construction site was at a well-known location and the job pays a monthly salary of about 13,000 yuan.
"I was told that I would be working in Malaysia for four to five years, which gave me confidence to leave my family for a better job opportunity," he said.
Shi, who is uncertain about his future, added that they were all waiting for their family members to raise enough money so that they can buy a plane ticket home.