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Chinese officials escort 150 deported VoIP scam suspects

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Chinese nationals are deported at Phnom Penh International Airport on Thursday. Heng Chivoan

Chinese officials escort 150 deported VoIP scam suspects

Some 150 Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported through the Phnom Penh International Airport on Wednesday.

General Department of Immigration director-general Kirth Chantharith told The Post on Wednesday that police officials from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security repatriated the 150 suspects – including 12 women – on two aircraft.

“Their offences violated Chinese law and China requested us to investigate and make the arrests,” he said.

General Department of Immigration spokesperson Ath Bunny said the suspects were arrested by National Police in Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Speu provinces. They then handed the suspects over to the department to prepare for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to escort them back to China.

“Eighteen were arrested in Kampong Speu and 132 in Preah Sihanouk,” he said.

On July 17, police forces in Kampong Speu raided a zinc-roofed warehouse in Baset district’s Svay Chachib commune, arrested the 18 suspects and seized computers, mobile phones, telephones, generators, a phone antenna and bank money transfer documents.

In a separate case on August 14, officials of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, in collaboration with Preah Sihanouk provincial police, raided two separate locations in Sihanoukville and arrested the 132 suspects.

They then sent the group to the National Police Headquarters in Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian authorities will continue to search for other Chinese nationals suspected of involvement in VoIP scams, Bunny said.

On August 18, the government issued a directive halting the issuance of licenses for online gambling, stating that they had provided foreign nationals with the opportunity to secretly run online money extortion scams.

Hundreds of Chinese nationals have been deported in connection with such online scams since last year.

A General Department of Immigration report in March said foreigners of 27 nationalities had been deported since last year in connection with offences such as staying in the Kingdom without passports, economic crimes, fraud, prostitution, sexual exploitation of underage girls and VoIP scams.