A serial thief behind bars in Prey Veng province is accused of extorting $520 from a woman – allegedly with the help of prison guards – by procuring compromising sexually explicit material from online chats then threatening to disseminate it unless a ransom was paid, with evidence also suggesting there could be multiple victims, police say.
According to information posted yesterday on Facebook by Kandal Provincial Police Chief Eav Chamroeun, 43-year-old Yem Bros, an inmate at the Prey Veng prison, will be sent to court to face accusations related to extortion, though he is yet to be charged.
Given access to a computer and mobile phones by the prison’s deputy chief, according to his statements to police, Bros allegedly befriended and extorted a 45-year-old woman from Kandal province’s Takhmao town over Facebook, according to Chamroeun, who said prison officers helped collect the cash.
According to the woman’s complaint, which Chamreoun published online, the pair began communicating in late June, and on July 7, Bros coaxed the victim, who was not named, into sending him naked photos.
Five days later, the woman received a phone call from the suspect threatening to spread the compromising pictures online unless she paid $3,000.
The complainant said she was only able to afford to hand over $500, which she sent via Wing money transfer service. The following day she got another call from the same phone number demanding $5,000 and again sent money, this time $20.
After receiving the woman’s complaint, Chamroeun said police conducted a five-day search to trace the suspect which led them to Prey Veng provincial prison.
Speaking yesterday by phone, the police chief said a search of the laptop used by Bros – who maintained five Facebook accounts under different names – uncovered not only photos but videos of online sexual exchanges with the complainant and half a dozen other women.
“In the laptop, the suspect had naked video clips of the woman who had contacted with and [videos of] not less than five to six other women,” Chamroeun said, adding most of the women were “widows” between 30 and 50 years old and police were yet to establish how long Bros had carried out such activities.
“There were more than 150 female friends in each of the suspect’s accounts,” Chamroeun added.
During questioning, Bros, who was jailed in Kampot in 2010 over eight separate robbery cases and later transferred to Prey Veng to serve his 10-year sentence, said he was given access to phones and a computer – something which is forbidden within the prison system – by the deputy prison chief.
“In Prey Veng prison, when I get out of the cell, I could use a computer and phones because I got permission from the deputy chief of the prison, Um Rayoeung. I used to buy some stuff for him. In prison I have three phones and a laptop,” Bros said in his statement to police, which was also published online.
Chamroeun said a prison guard named Che Mao had collected the first ransom payment, while a guard named Kong had collected the second. He said it would be up to the Interior Ministry to take action against the prison staff.
Reached yesterday, the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, Nuth Savna, said he had heard of the case but was yet to receive a formal report.
However, he vowed an investigation into the role of the prison staff.
“This is related to a criminal act, facilitating the use of forbidden devices in the prison and allowing the prisoner the opportunity to commit crimes so they will face criminal and administrative punishment.”
Prey Veng Prison Chief Chuob Sarim could not be reached for comment.
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