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Cops bust up phone scam

Nearly 30 Chinese and Cambodian citizens are facing charges over an alleged telephone scam following a multi-department police raid in Phnom Penh last week.

The National Military Police, along with local police and a prosecutor, raided a villa in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Friday, arresting 19 men and five women from China as well as two women and a man from Cambodia, said Kheng Kito, a National Military Police spokesman.

“We are questioning them one by one, in accordance with our law,” Kito said. He added that he hoped to charge the suspects in court by some point today.

Law enforcement officials suspect the 27 people arrested are connected with a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) scam, using the internet to make phone calls from Cambodia to China from ostensibly Chinese phone numbers. Scammers then typically use various techniques to trick their victims into sending money to Cambodia.

Since the beginning of the year, a total of 90 Chinese nationals have been arrested in connection with similar alleged scams in Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh, Kito said.

“They commit crimes that lead to the loss of a lot of money and use our country as a place to defraud people abroad,” Kito said. Scammers also cause disturbances to Cambodian telecom lines, he added.

Law enforcement officials are currently seeking advice from the Cambodian government as to how to best prosecute the case. Rather than simply deporting the Chinese nationals, they should be punished before being expelled from Cambodia, Kito said.

The suspects could be charged with thievery, distorting for money and fraud, he added. But laws need to be added in order to better prosecute this specific crime, he said.

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