About 200 Chinese people were arrested yesterday in two Poipet guesthouses in a bust on a scam operation that targeted civil servants in China with blackmail, according to police.
Uk Hai Sela, head of investigations at the Immigration Department, said the group was operating a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) operation to contact civil servants in China.
He explained that in previous cases the scams would be conducted in three phases: First, the perpetrators would research the background of civil servants, including teachers, nurses and court officials, and high-ranking officials.
Then they would use “handsome men” and “beautiful women” to contact the officials via the app WeChat “to make love connections with them” before eventually exchanging nude photos. They would then threaten to publish the photos if the victims didn’t pay.
“They would say . . . ‘If you don’t want to lose your dignity, you have to pay this amount of money. If you don’t give us money, we will spread the pictures in China and around the world, or we will post those pictures to the website where you are working,’” Sela said.
He said the scammers could get between 10,000 Yuan and 100,000 Yuan (about $1,488 to $14,876) from each victim and that they could make between $30,000 to $40,000 each week.
O Lon, an immigration police officer, said a total of 215 suspects, including 32 women, were arrested at two Poipet guesthouses and then brought to Siem Reap, following a tip-off from the Chinese police. He added that those kept in custody were all Chinese, though some did not carry any passports with then, and said they had arrived at the guesthouses five days before, according to the owner.
According to Khun Sambo, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department, some of those detained had been set free later in the day. Among the arrestees released, he said, were six female cooks and male cleaners with Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese nationalities. He maintained no Taiwanese were arrested in the raid.
Earlier this month, police arrested 31 in a similar raid. After initially insisting that no Taiwanese were among the suspects, officials later admitted that there were seven in the group. They were all deported to mainland China last week over the protests of Taiwan, which expressed the next day its “serious concern and deep regret” in a press release.
“As Cambodia supports the ‘One-China’ policy and faces pressure from China, Cambodia does not allow us to investigate, but instead follow China’s demands to forcibly send [the Taiwanese] to [mainland] China,” they wrote.
The Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, and the Chinese embassy could not be reached.
Additional reporting by Cindy Co