In two separate incidents over the weekend, local and military police arrested 24 Chinese nationals allegedly involved with extorting money over the phone from people in China.
Military police, in collaboration with local police and a prosecutor from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, raided three rental villas in Sen Sok, Russey Keo and Tuol Kork districts on Friday and Saturday, said Brigadier General Kheng Tito, spokesman for the military police.
“They were the members of the group of Chinese kidnappers who had threatened and extorted money from the people in China and Taiwan via [Voice over the Internet Protocol] telephones from Cambodia,” Tito said. “They were accused of threatening, and now are still being questioned by our military police at the national military police headquarters in Phnom Penh.”
Law enforcement officials suspect the 24 people arrested are connected with a VoIP scam, using the internet to make phone calls from Cambodia to China from ostensibly Chinese phone numbers. Scammers then typically use various techniques – including threatening the victims – in order to trick them into sending money to Cambodia.
Since the beginning of the year, a total of 90 Chinese nationals have been arrested in connection with similar alleged scams in Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh, Tito told the Post last week.
Fourteen of the alleged scammers were arrested on Friday afternoon in Sen Sok and Russey Keo districts, Tito said. The other 10 people were arrested at a luxury rental villa in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak II commune at about 11am on Sunday.
The arrests came only a week after local and military police raided a villa in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district and arrested 24 Chinese nationals and three Cambodians who were allegedly connected to a similar VoIP scam.
According to a Ministry of Interior report, from 2010 until June 2013, about 600 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals were arrested for allegedly extorting money from people in China and Taiwan via VoIP from Cambodia.