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Alleged extortionists busted

Taiwanese and Chinese nationals accused of running an international extortion ring are arrested at a rented villa in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district
Taiwanese and Chinese nationals accused of running an international extortion ring are arrested at a rented villa in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district. VIREAK MAI

Alleged extortionists busted

One man was shot and injured during dual police raids on locations in Phnom Penh and Svay Rieng yesterday morning, where 61 foreign nationals allegedly ran an overseas extortion operation.

Police in Phnom Penh arrested 41 Chinese mainlanders and three Taiwanese nationals in a rented villa in Chamkarmon district, while police in Svay Rieng apprehended nine mainlanders and eight Taiwanese nationals at a guesthouse in Bavet town, Major General Chhay Sinarith, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Internal Security Police Department, said.

“The suspects were involved with a ring that called victims in China and Taiwan, threatening them and extorting money,” Sinarith said, adding that the two groups were connected.

Those arrested yesterday allegedly took part in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam. People who engage in this form of fraud use the internet to make phone calls from Cambodia to China or Taiwan from ostensibly Chinese or Taiwanese phone numbers. Scammers then typically use various techniques – including threatening the victims – in order to trick them into sending money to Cambodia.

Raids came after Chinese police informed Cambodian authorities that they suspected the group of engaging in a VoIP operation, Sinarith said.

When police entered the villa in Phnom Penh, they fired two rounds, injuring one suspect, said an internal security police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak with the media.

“[The suspect] was shot by police because he has tried to escape,” the officer said. “He was shot by police in his buttock.”

The suspect was taken to Calmette Hospital for treatment, he added. According to a Ministry of Interior report, between 2010 and June 2013, about 600 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals were arrested in Cambodia for alleged involvement in VoIP extortion scams.

Suspects arrested yesterday were detained for questioning and will then be deported back to their home countries, Sinarith said.

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