The Ministry of Interior’s Anti Cyber Crime Department has called on members of the public who have been scammed by a fictitious online loan service – calling itself BAB Bank – to come forward and add their names to the growing list of victims.
Authorities are continuing to search for the scammers who are behind the unregistered bank.
A number of people have taken to social media to say they had been cheated by BAB Bank, which claimed to offer online loans. BAB’s online pages used doctored images of a Bred Bank Battambang branch to lend credibility to its claims.
Anti Cyber Crime Department director Sok Nithya told The Post that the department was currently in contact with several victims.
“The department will investigate every complaint it receives. If a person suspects they are a victim of this type of crime, they are advised to file a complaint with the department,” he said.
One of the victims, identified as Mak Lim Meng, told The Post that after applying for a loan, she was cheated out of nearly $700.
“I saw an advertisement for the ‘bank’ on Facebook and got in contact with them. I asked for a loan of $3,000, which they approved. To open an account, I needed to deposit $50, but they followed up with several fees and service charges, and I never saw the principle amount of the loan,” she said.
After realising that she had been cheated, she filed a complaint with the cyber-crime department. When she publicised her case on social media, she was astonished at the number of people who came forward to say that they too had been scammed.
“I realized that I had been cheated and stopped paying the fees and charges they asked for. Many other people continued to follow the instructions from the bank, with some of them saying they had spent thousands of dollars,” she added.
Another victim, using the social media account handle “Saray” also came forward to detail the nature of the scam.
“We were told to transfer $90 for the state, $150 as a deposit and $50 as a ‘code charge’, in order to gain access to a $3,150 loan. I was given the code, but when I went to withdraw the money I was told that I had entered an incorrect phone number. They claimed that the funds had been transferred to the incorrect phone number, and asked that I pay $100 so the money would be frozen,” said the account.
“Next, they asked for $300 to retrieve it from the incorrect holder. I asked if I could withdraw the $3,150 and they said I could not, because the funds were now frozen. Finally, they asked me for an additional $100 to register a new phone number, and $50 to obtain a new code,” it added.
Bred Bank (Cambodia) Plc was quick to distance itself from the activities of “BAB Bank”, noting that the scammers had doctored an image of its Battambang branch office in order to deceive the public.
“Bred Bank Cambodia recently received a report of a scammer using the image of our Battambang branch, with a change to our bank logo and name to deceive unsuspecting consumers of financial services,” said the bank, in a statement.
“We are in no way affiliated with any institution calling itself ‘BAB Bank’ or ‘BAB Loan’. Neither of these names are licensed in the Kingdom,” it added.
According to the National Bank of Cambodia’s annual inspection report 2022, neither BAB Bank nor BAB Loan are registered to provide financial services.
The Post had tried to contact BAB via the phone numbers provided to several victims, but the calls went unanswered.