Battambang Students Arrested for Extorting Classmate for $10K

A high school extortion racket was busted Tuesday when nine students were arrested after taking thousands of dollars from a classmate who did not want his parents to know he had been stealing their money to shower his girlfriend with gifts, Battambang provincial police said.

For years, Ly Chhaitak, 17, had been pilfering money from the till at his parent’s gas station to spoil his girlfriend, according to Chet Vanny, deputy chief of the provincial police. When his friends found out late last year, they demanded a cut of the cash in exchange for their silence, he said.

On Monday evening, he said, the parents finally confronted their son about the missing money and he came clean, telling them that he was set to hand over $2,000 the next morning to the initial extorter, Ham Sthabna, 18.

“We let the victim bring the money to Ham Sthabna and we arrested him as the money was handed over,” Mr. Vanny said.

“Last time, Ham Sthabna demanded $1,000 and said it would be the last time. This time, he demanded $2,000 to buy a motorbike and said that was the last time,” he added.

Mr. Sthabna began extorting Chhaitak, his friend, about a year ago and had been the biggest profiteer, while eight others, who were also arrested on Tuesday at their homes and school in Sangke district’s Anlong Vil commune, joined the racket later. Mr. Vanny said some $10,000 had been extorted in total.

“The suspects threatened to bring the love story to tell the parents,” he said, adding that Chhaitak had mostly used his parents’ money to buy mobile phones and jewelry for his girlfriend.

“It seemed very easy to extort money from the victim, so the friends spread the news from one to another,” Mr Vanny said.

Pong Chanyutheara, a deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, said that five or six of the suspects had been questioned Wednesday and the rest would be interviewed today.

kimsay@cambodiadaily.com

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