Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scam brokers nabbed at Phnom Penh airport

Scam brokers nabbed at Phnom Penh airport

Scam brokers nabbed at Phnom Penh airport


Would-be migrant workers talk to police after being prevented from flying to South Korea on Saturday night. Photograph: supplied

Four brokers accused of duping 19 victims out of thousands of dollars for non-existent jobs in South Korea were arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday.

Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, said Por Sen Chey district police arrested Lok Sido, 32, Kuch Sopha, 35, Puth Sophal, 26, and Meng Savun, 28, after one of the victims filed a complaint at a nearby police station when the promised flight to South Korea never arrived.

“According to victims, some of them spent from US$1,000 up to $2,000 on brokers seeking jobs and preparing documents,” he said.

One of the 19 victims said yesterday they arrived at the airport on time to board a flight as instructed by brokers.

“But we waited for a long time – no flight. We called the brokers but they said the flight maybe had been postponed. We stopped believing them and decided to file a complaint to the police on the same day,” he said.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said brokers regularly exploiting Cambodians seeking jobs in South Korea are assisted by false promises plastered on billboards advertising training centres.

“The worker needs to go to the Ministry of Labour but the billboard of the South Korean training schools really confuse people – that you just pay $50 and then you can go to work in Korea,” he said.

Tola said the ministries of labour and education should review the licensing of such facilities. Neither ministry could be reached for comment yesterday.

The arrests came three days after South Korea implemented controversial new legislation aimed at curtailing migrant worker exploitation that rights groups say may have the opposite effect.

On August 1, South Korea enacted a new Measure for Improvement in Foreign Workers’ Change of Workplaces and Prevention of Broker Intervention policy aimed at reducing the frequency of migrant employees changing jobs.

Rights groups including Amnesty International, the Asia Pacific Mission For Migrants and the International Forum for Democracy and Cooperation have said the policy leaves migrants with nowhere to go if they find themselves in exploitative working conditions.

Where in the past migrant workers seeking to change jobs were provided a list of labour-seeking businesses, businesses will be provided a list of job-seeking workers.

Amnesty International said in a statement late last month that if the migrant workers did not find a new job within three months, “they will lose their work visa, thus risking arrest, imprisonment and deportation”.

Questions have also been raised over how the policy’s aim of curtailing exploitation by providing lists of workers rather than businesses will actually help, given that brokers could find the new list just as, if not more, useful.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at [email protected]
David Boyle at [email protected]


  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release