Anti-Terrorism Police Arrest 23 South Koreans Over VoIP Scam

Police from the Interior Minis­try’s anti-terrorism department ar­rested 23 South Korean men in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Friday on suspicion of running an online extortion ring using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) tech­nology, officials said.

The officers apprehended the suspects in simultaneous raids on two rented houses in Sen Sok’s Thmey commune at about 11 a.m. on Friday, according to Y Sok Khy, director of the anti-terrorism de­partment, which also investigates other transnational crime.

“We arrested the South Koreans because we suspect they were ex­torting people online,” he said, add­ing that about 20 computers and five telephone handsets confiscated in the raids were being in­spected for evidence of illegal activity. He said the men were being held at the Interior Ministry for questioning.

Mr. Sok Khy said his department cooperated with officials from the Ministry of Posts and Tel­ecommunications in making the arrests, but declined to give fur­ther details about the operation.

Ou Borath, secretary-general of the ministry, said his officials re­quested assistance from the In­terior Ministry after becoming aware of an unusual amount of VoIP activity in the two houses over the past month.

“We do not know what the purpose of the VoIP was, but we suspect they were using it to extort money” from South Koreans, he said, clarifying that authorities currently had no hard evidence against the 23 men.

“After questioning [the suspects] and analysis of the computers’ hard drives, we will know what this group was doing,” Mr. Borath said.

A number of VoIP scams have been uncovered in Cambodia over the past few years, including a massive racket involving 168 Chi­nese nationals who were arrested in Sihanoukville in November.

The technology can be used to make calls that are difficult to trace, Mr. Borath explained, allowing extortionists and other fraudsters to operate from afar with little fear of arrest.

“The second country cannot identify the number of the VoIP—that’s why they use other countries to open the gateway,” he said.

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