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As PM ‘brags’, scammers try to strike gold

Sorn Seavmey celebrates after winning gold during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea
Sorn Seavmey celebrates after winning gold during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. AFP

As PM ‘brags’, scammers try to strike gold

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday sang the praises of Cambodia’s first gold medallist in 44 years – suggesting Sorn Seavmey’s achievement was the “only thing Cambodia can brag about” – as the Kingdom’s Olympic Committee warned of bogus Facebook accounts in her name soliciting money.

After Seavmey, 19, took first in taekwondo at the Asian Games in South Korea on October 3, Hun Sen yesterday commended her achievement at a graduation ceremony for Cambodia University of Specialties at Koh Pich yesterday.

“It’s no small achievement to win a gold medal against 45 countries,” said the prime minister, who is granting the athlete $30,000, a motorbike, an iPad, a computer, an automatic pass for the grade 12 exam and $1,500 per year in congratulations.

“For those who could not … praise this achievement, please stay silent,” Hun Sen said, referring to people criticising the gifts. “This is the only thing Cambodia can brag about.”

The comments came on the same day that the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia released a statement warning that multiple Facebook accounts have been created by scam artists purporting to be Seavmey asking for donations for nonexistent charities.

The accounts contain phone numbers donors can use to set up appointments and contribute to the fake funds, said Vath Chamroeun, the Olympic Committee’s secretary.

“Based on current observation, there have been Facebook accounts established identifying them as belonging to Seavmey for money-soliciting purposes,” Chamroeun said. “We are monitoring those thieves, and we have already prepared lawyers for legal counseling for victims’ complaints.”

Seavmey said the Sorn Seavmey Foundation – which donates to the Cambodian Red Cross, Kantha Bopha children’s hospitals and others – is the only charitable organisation in her name.

“I have not used Facebook for several days now and have not created a page for fundraising,” Seavmey said.

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