Cambodia deported 49 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals on Friday for their alleged involvement in a phone-based extortion ring, Ministry of Interior officials said yesterday.
“Forty-four Chinese people were sent to Taiwan, and five Chinese people were sent to China,” Sok Vichea, the deputy director of the Immigration Police Department at the Ministry of Interior, said.
“They were sent via airplane to their countries on the 25th of May, 2012,” he said.
The decision to deport the group, who police alleged were connected to a Chinese “mafia”, was made by Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, he added.
Lieutenant General Chhay Sinarith, director of the Internal Security Department of the Ministry of Interior, said the suspects were arrested by his police forces in raids on eight different sites in the Chamkarmorn, Tuol Kork and Sen Sok districts of Phnom Penh.
“These Chinese people were accused of using VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol, a type of internet-based telephone] from Cambodia to threaten and extort money from people in China and Taiwan,” he told the Post.
Chhay Sinarith said that Cambodian police received information regarding the suspects’ activities – which had allegedly gone on for years – from Chinese police in early May, and launched an investigation to determine where the suspects lived in Phnom Penh.
According to Chhay Sinarith, the group impersonated Chinese police officers, claiming to know about their victims’ personal scandals, and saying that they would delete victims’ names from a police blacklist in exchange for money.
The suspects’ deception extended to making their phone number appear as that of a Chinese police hotline on victims’ caller IDs, in order to extort them, he said.
He added that the group had entered Cambodia legally, but had not worked or run any businesses here.
According to Ministry of Interior’s report, a total of 296 alleged Chinese “mafia” members have been arrested in Cambodia and deported since 2011.
Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia could not be reached for comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]