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Chinese 'fraudsters' deported

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Photo by: Reuters
Suspects from China and Taiwan hide their faces in a detention room at the immigration office in Jakarta last week.

Cambodia has deported 187 suspected fraudsters to China following a huge police operation that saw arrests carried out throughout Southeast Asia.  

Chinese police were shown on television escorting more than 60 hooded and handcuffed detainees from a plane in Xiamen late Friday, following their arrests in the Kingdom a day earlier. Raids were reported to have taken place in Phnom Penh as well as the coastal town of Sihanoukville.

Detained by a joint effort between Cambodian, Chinese and Taiwanese police, the suspects face allegations of extorting money from residents in China’s Shanxi, Hunan and Fujian provinces, as well as in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, China News Network reported yesterday.Networks operating in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam allegedly extorted tens of millions of dollars from Chinese residents since December, China News Network reported. In many cases, suspects reportedly posed as local police and finance officials over the phone to obtain credit card and banking information from victims.

 In the biggest case reported, one of China’s country-level financial institutions lost more than US$600,000, China News Network reported. Its name was not revealed. 

Some Chinese citizens allegedly saw decades of savings disappear. 

Cambodian authorities held the suspects for one night before repatriating them to China, Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, said yesterday. “We detained them overnight and then expelled all the suspects on a special Chinese plane,” he said.The joint police operation saw 187 suspects in Cambodia arrested, the spokesman said, an increase on the 166 arrests reported Thursday. Nearly 600 suspects were detained in Southeast Asia, according to Sina News. More than 70 suspects detained in Indonesia – the majority of them women – landed in Beijing’s Capital International Airport on Friday.

Although the investigation in Cambodia has stopped, local merchants on Street 21 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon District said the residents of one raided house fled long before police arrived.

“They left two or three days before the [police] came. The police didn’t find them because they already ran away,” Chhun Nalen, a fruit vendor, said yesterday.More suspects would be arrested if Cambodian police became aware of them, Khieu Sopheak said yesterday. 

The operations demonstrated an unprecedented level of police coordination between Cambodia and its northern neighbour, Khieu Sopheak said. “It was the first time Chinese and Cambodian security forces cooperated to crack down on large-scale, cross-border crimes in Cambodia,” he said.

Those detained in Thursday’s raid are now under the jurisdiction of Chinese authorities and will not face charges in Cambodia, Khieu Sopheak said.

“We don’t know about the fate of the suspects. It depends on Chinese law,” he said.

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