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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Traffickers guilty in fake degree scam

Traffickers guilty in fake degree scam

Two men who duped Cambodian students into being trafficked to China have been sentenced to seven years in prison in what anti-trafficking groups yesterday said was an “alarming” case.

Inn Simanann, the director of Institute for Professional Accounting Training, and Liu Wing Hing were handed the minimum sentence by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday for their role in deceiving and exploiting 17 students, who were awarded a total of $92,200 in compensation.

While anti-trafficking group Chab Dai said perpetrators tended to target impoverished, desperate or otherwise vulnerable victims, Simanann and Liu instead sought out educated students, luring them to China under the false pretence of a degree and training in fashion design.

“One of the reasons why the case was and still is very alarming is because suddenly, there is a risk of all of us being the target group,” said Chab Dai spokesman Joseph Arnhold.

“The crime of human trafficking develops and gets broader as well as we see more Cambodians getting trafficked into new countries.”

According to International Justice Mission Cambodia’s Field Office Director Peter Williams, the students paid $2,500 up front for the fabricated fashion education opportunity, only to be forced to work seven days a week in a garment factory. They were paid between $160 and $220 per month, far below the $550 promised.

“These convictions are an indication of the Phnom Penh Court’s ability to see past the appearances of respectability these traffickers create, and recognise this enterprise for what it was: a criminal trafficking network,” he said.

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