Cambodian law enforcement authorities are calling on the public to be aware of and guard against a scam run from abroad after two suspects were detained in connection to it by the criminal investigations department of the National Police.

The criminal investigations department of the National Police under the Ministry of Interior said on September 1 that in August, someone operating a Facebook account under the name of Parimal claimed that he had gotten stranded in Ukraine and needed to send money to Cambodia.

Parimal claimed that he was looking for kind people willing to help him and that they would be permitted to keep some portion of the money if they facilitated the transfer for him.

Parimal found a victim named Ek Piseth, a resident of Chaom Chao II commune in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district. Several criminals were involved in this case, including one woman claiming to be a customs officer.

Scams of this type typically rely on several factors to work in that by offering compensation for their assistance they try to prey on the greed of the victims, which they also attempt to stoke by allowing them to witness one or more real transactions involving the transfer of large sums of moneys, but in reality it’s the scammers accomplices who are on the receiving end.

Finally, they apply pressure tactics and force the victims to make decisions about sometimes complex movements of money around the globe then and there without the benefit of advice or reflection on the matter. Ek Piseth had $9,120 stolen due to these tactics.

Piseth got lucky, however, because – after going silent for a period – on August 30, the same criminal contacted him and tried to convince him to send another $5,000 while still dangling the delivery of the promised package.

Knowing he had been cheated, Piseth reported what was taking place to police officers from the criminal investigative department.

The police officers were able to step-in and, after investigating, they arrested two suspects as they were entering a Wing location to withdraw what they thought would be another haul of easy money from their victim. The bust took place in Veal Vong commune of the capital’s Prampi Makara district.

The suspects were identified as N'cho Marcel, male, nationality Ivory Coast, and Doung Theary, female Cambodian. The police seized some items from them, such as $5,800 in cash, the victim's money and four mobile phones.

The criminal investigative department has now detained the two suspects for questioning in order to build a court case against them for referral to prosecutors.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, told the CPA on September 2 that in today’s modern digital age the network and technological systems that make our lives so much easier in some ways can also be turned into dangerous weapons to wield against the victims.

“As for the crime of scamming or similar crimes like illegal online loans, so many of our people today are falling victim to all of these problems due to a lack of education and awareness with some and so we call for law enforcement to apprehend those running online scams,” he said, adding that NGOs like his and others must find ways to teach people online skills and digital literacy.

He added that in order to prevent these online scams from ruining lives in Cambodia, people have to seriously consider what should be believed and what should not be believed, especially the words of strangers communicated anonymously online.

Sam Ath said that after the two suspects were detained he hoped that the authorities would increase prevention efforts and strictly enforce the law against such offenders, lest people continue to fall victim to these scams.