The Ministry of Interior is planning to deport 128 Chinese nationals after they were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an online money extortion scam.

Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post on Thursday that the Chinese nationals were being questioned at the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration.

“These people were involved in online scams. When our procedures are complete, the police will send them out of Cambodia,” he said.

Provincial police chief Chuon Narin told The Post that the Department made the arrests in collaboration with the provincial police, provincial court and Chinese police.

He said the authorities made arrests at two locations in Mittapheap district – a five-storey building in Village II’s Group 26 in Commune III and the Royal Princess Guesthouse in Village III’s Group IV in Commune II.

Narin said he could not provide details of the suspects’ activities as his police officers had only cooperated as representatives of the local authority.

A few hours after the arrests, he said, the police sent the suspects to the Ministry of Interior.

“More than 10 of the suspects are women. I’m not sure what offences they are accused of as we just offered assistance in theoperation.

“Their arrest complied with a warrant from Chinese police,” he said.

In December last year, the General Department of Immigration deported 235 Chinese nationals, including 35 women, for their part in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam.

Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said on Thursday that such scams targeted other Chinese nationals.

She said the cases were investigated by Chinese police in collaboration with Cambodian authorities.

“When we first learned last year that the authorities had arrested a large number of Chinese people for being involved in an extortion scam, we were surprised. But we’re not surprised anymore, because it is happening too often,” Sotheary said.