An abbot in a Kampong Chhnang pagoda learned last week that money can indeed be an illusion after he was allegedly duped into accepting a fake US$1 million bill, a mistake that cost him almost $10,000, local authorities said yesterday.
Abbot Chey Pho, 60, used his own money, that of his pagoda’s and even took out a bank loan to pay a man for the bill, which he was tricked into believing was printed in 1928 and could fetch a $40,000 reward from the US embassy if handed in.
Snor village chief Lun Kong said a series of meetings had culminated in a man auctioning off the “million-dollar note” inside Pho’s pagoda in Boribo district on Friday.
Two suspects – the auctioneer and a man identified as Sary, whom Pho believed was a fellow bidder – are wanted by police over the incident.
Sary had outbid the abbot, but convinced him to pay $10,000 to the auctioneer for the note and keep the remaining $30,000 reward money from the US embassy to renovate the pagoda.
Boribo district police chief Cheang Sovann Rith said police had identified two suspects – the second being a man named Ly Kim Chhay – and confiscated the fake bank note at the centre of the case.
“We have not received a complaint yet from the pagoda commission or from the victim,” Sovann Rith said. “But this was caused by greed. If he had not wanted that much money, he would not have been cheated.”
The fallout caused by the abbot’s $10,000 mistake has not been kind on his family. Pho has already begun selling his personal belongings to pay back the money and faces losing a house owned by his relatives, authorities said.
Pho could not be reached, while police are seeking the two men’s arrest.