Appeal Court Upholds Conviction of Fraud Felons

The Appeal Court on Friday upheld a 2014 verdict against two men who amassed thousands of dollars in a scam that promised jobs in South Korea to people who paid to take Korean language lessons.

Kim Sophat, 29, and Uon Sarath, 31, were sentenced to two years and two-and-a-half years, respectively, and ordered to compensate 158 plaintiffs for the fraud committed via the You Can Win recruitment agency between June and Sep­tem­ber­ 2013. 

Mr. Sarath was fined 5 million riel, or about $625. Mr. Sophat was fined 3 million riel, or about $375.

“The court decided to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s verdict on April 7, 2014, and the court ordered them to pay four more people $150 each,” said Pre­siding Judge Chay Chandaravan.

The two were originally charged with defrauding 154 people.

In 2013, Mr. Sarath, You Can Win’s director-general, and Mr. Sophat, its marketing manager, promised to help hundreds of workers migrate to South Korea to work on the condition of taking Korean language courses.

When the businessmen failed to complete migration arrangements, the Labor Ministry began receiving complaints from workers who had paid for and completed language courses.

“We didn’t think they cheated us because they had brought some people to work in Korea already,” Nuth Lay, 60, a relative of six victims said after the judge an­noun­ced his decision.

Than Thavorak, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that 200 to 300 people were recruited by the defendants, but many did not file complaints.

“The victims paid from $100 to $3,500,” he said.

The plaintiffs accept the court’s decision, Mr. Thavorak said, but want to know when they will receive their compensation.

“I don’t know when I’ll receive that money back because the court did not set a date to order the defendants to pay us,” said Nop Chanthou, 36.

When police unearthed the scam, they also shut down the Our Friends Orphanage-—the base for the racket—and obtained an arrest warrant for its director, Thoeun Samnang.

Mr. Sophat and Mr. Sarath claimed after their arrest that Mr. Samnang was the mastermind and had made off with some $600,000.

Mr. Samnang remains at large.

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