Accused Scam Artist Says She Is the Victim

An accused scam artist said Tues­day that she has been unable to construct promised homes for 1,097 squatter families who gave her more than $100,000 be­cause she was cheated in a deal to purchase land for the homes.

Arrested in September on accusations of cheating squatters in Meanchey district, Lak Sokthyna was released last week on $20,000 bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, according to Judge Thong Ol.

“I have spent all the money to bribe the police and for bail. Right now, I don’t have any money,” said Lak Sokthyna, 41, president of the Stung Meanchey Squatter Development Association, previ­ous­ly reported as the “Cambo­-dian Development Community.”

Explaining the loss, Lak Sok­thy­na said she paid $63,000 toward a $120,000 2-hec­tare parcel of land in Stung Mean­chey commune in 1996, but was cheated by a former colleague, who, she said, took the mo­ney and put the land in his name.

Lok Sokthyna also said that she paid $40,000 toward another $120,000 parcel of land in Dang­kao district. However, Dangkao dis­trict Deputy Governor Keo Sophea said Tuesday that Lok Sokthyna paid only $20,000 and couldn’t claim the land because she failed to make subsequent payments.

Lak Sokthyna accused Keo Soph­ea of cheating her. She said that she will file de­famation suits against him and several former employees, who, she said, were all fired for corruption.

She also threatened the squatter families who lost their money, stating that whoever files complaints against her will not receive a refund, but she would return mo­ney to people who don’t file court complaints.

Mom Chanchampa, who has filed a complaint against Lak Sokthyna, said that she quit working for the association after she discovered the president was spending money she received from squatters.

“After [Lak Sokthyna] took the money from the [squatters] she bought beer to drink,” Mom Chan­champa said.


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