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Blackmail scam targets officials

District governors are finding themselves on the receiving end of blackmail attempts by individuals allegedly impersonating Interior Ministry and Anti-corruption Unit (ACU) officials, according to a letter issued by Ministry of Interior secretary of state Sak Setha.

Setha’s letter explained that the district governors of Kampong Chhnang’s Cholkiri district and Battambang’s Roka Kiri district were blackmailed on March 4 and March 12, respectively. Setha detailed how extortionists “used the names of senior officials” to demand cash from the governors in return for a guarantee they wouldn’t be fired or jailed.

Neither governor, the letter went on to say, obliged the blackmailers, and the ministry has since dispatched police to investigate.

Roka Kiri District Governor Pich Malai said yesterday that one of his blackmailers assumed the persona of Sak Setha.

“He called and told me that he was Sak Setha, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior,” said Malai, going on to describe how the mystery caller insinuated that Malai was involved in corrupt practices and instructed him to call another number.

The voice on the end of the next phone number claimed to be an ACU official, Malai said.

He claims the voice said the deputy provincial governor had been arrested and had denounced Malai. Both the purported ACU official and the Sak Setha impersonator told Malai he would have to pay them in order to make the accusations go away.

He consulted the Interior Ministry’s Mao Chandara, who assured him he was the victim of fraudsters, he said. However, Malai claims he saw through the extortionists on his own.

“After I questioned him twice, I did not think he was Sak Setha,” said Malai.

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