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Chiefs cry foul after swallowing bogus story

Officials from Kampong Cham province are hunting a conman who allegedly extorted money from six village chiefs in return for “gifts” from Prime Minister Hun Sen that he claimed would be awarded for their service to the government during this month’s commune election.

The village chiefs said the conman told them the premier was so impressed by their efforts to secure a commune seat for the Cambodian People’s Party during the elections, that he wished to bestow medals of honour, but that it would cost money to get them.

“A man called me and told me there were two choices of honour awards: one was an honourable award and the other was a moto, so I told the man I wanted a moto.

“Then he replied that if I wanted a moto I had to pay US$100,” Noun Nin said, adding that the two had negotiated and agreed on a price of $70 in two instalments.

Noun Nin, like the other village chiefs, paid the man, who called himself Ros Sopheal, through mobile phone credit transfer to the conman’s cell number.

A pick-up spot was nominated by Ros Sopheal for collection of Hun Sen’s “gift” moto and payment of a final $10 instalment, but when Noun Nin arrived at the destination he was greeted only by other cheated village chiefs waiting to collect their promised motos.

Nhme Sokhom, police chief in O’Reang-ou district, said his officers had been fruitlessly investigating the case and he was preparing a brief on the case to send to the internal security department at the Ministry of Interior.

“I cannot talk much because it is under investigation because I am afraid the suspects will run away.”

O’Reang-ou district governor Ros Sokhorn said he had warned commune and village chiefs not to fall for scams.

“I have announced to all commune chiefs and village chiefs don’t believe anybody if they did not see any official letter from me.”

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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