MORE than two dozen people from Kampong Cham's Chamkar Leu district say they were duped into handing over as much as US$1,700 a person to unscrupulous brokers promising to send them to lucrative jobs in Korea.
"They said we could leave Cambodia for Korea on July 28, but on that date, they broke their promise," said Sreng Mom, 45, who said he paid $1,700 to get work in Korea. "We all trusted them as neighbours, but actually they cheated us."
Twenty-six people - eight women and 18 men - have filed a complaint to the anti-human trafficking NGO Legal Support for Women and Children (LSCW) and asked the NGO to help get their money back.
"We are preparing documents for the people now to sue the scammers and make them pay people back," said Uth Boren, a trainee at LSCW in Kampong Cham, adding that more than 10 families have already received some money from two accused false brokers.
Uth Boren said her organisation spends time educating people about the dangers of fake brokers, but that her warnings often go ignored until it is too late.
"I always tell them about the tricks and tell them not to trust other people too easily, but they don't pay attention to what we tell them," she said. "At first, when they were cheated, they said, 'We don't think we are cheated' ... but we still help them."
To make payments to the brokers, villagers had to sell their rice fields and cows, said Bun Kuntha, the deputy governor of Chamkar Leu district.
Cheng Heang, the Kampong Cham provincial Labour Department director, said he sympathised with those who lost money.
"I feel terribly sorry for my people who were cheated by the [fake brokers].... These liars must be punished," he said.