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Villagers allegedly scammed

A local official and 40 Tampuon families from Ratanakkiri’s Bakeo district say a man, who claimed to be an assistant to a provincial lawmaker from the Cambodian People’s Party, stole $1,500 from them after telling them he would use it to resolve their land dispute.

The dispute involves 69 hectares of land where villagers’ claims overlap with those of either a local businessman or private company Ly Sokkim Co, Ltd. The company has brought several villagers to court for allegedly encroaching on land it purchased in 2007.

Hoping to reclaim the land for themselves the families raised $1,500 between February and March and gave it to a middle-aged man known as Mr Tha, who claimed to be an assistant to CPP lawmaker Bou Lam, Par Or village chief Kvas Cheav said.

“He said if we just paid for his trip and gasoline, he would help us,” Cheav said. “I believed him, and my family alone gave him $500.”

CPP lawmaker Bou Lam said yesterday that he had never had an assistant named Tha and was waiting for the villagers to send him the letter of complaint he had requested after they mentioned the alleged fraud to him.

“I asked them to file a complaint with me so I could forward it to the Ministry of Defence or the National Assembly, but I have not seen any complaint  letter so far,” he said.

The families are discussing options for taking legal action against Tha.

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