Military police arrested the owner of a tour agency on Monday evening after an angry mob surrounded its office to confront her after being swindled out of thousands of dollars meant to be used to purchase airline tickets.
About 30 customers descended on Srey Rath International Travel and Tours—named after the 35-year-old owner, Ros Sreyrath—in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district at about 8 p.m., apparently after one of them began a Facebook live video outside the agency.
“It was chaotic and people wanted to beat her,” said Soy Chandy, head of the district military police, adding that Ms. Sreyrath was brought to the municipal police headquarters, where she continued to be held on Tuesday.
Customers, among them Chey Sokunthy, 25, allege that the agency took their money without purchasing tickets for them, instead just printing itineraries that proved worthless at the airport. She claimed that she and fellow customers had filed about 40 complaints with military police, demanding the return of payments between $1,000 and $5,000.
Ms. Sokunthy said she paid $2,620 in cash for 10 tickets for a family Valentine’s Day trip to Hong Kong through the agency in November, some departing on February 6 and some a week later.
In December, she said she saw a Facebook post accusing the agency of cheating customers. In the post, a man who had bought six tickets to New Zealand through the company said he was called on departure day by the agency and told that due to a “system error” he would not be able to fly.
Ms. Sokunthy said she proceeded to call Ms. Sreyrath, the owner of the company, who dismissed it as an attempt to undermine her company’s reputation.
However, two days before her flight, Ms. Sokunthy received an identical telephone call from Ms. Sreyrath saying that a “system error” meant that she couldn’t fly. She only received some tickets after threatening to go to the police.
On Sunday, her parents showed up at the airport only to be told their tickets didn’t exist. Ms. Sokunthy’s father was told to buy his own tickets by Ms. Sreyrath, who promised to pay him back.
“I was really mad,” she said. “My parents [were] shamed at the airport, standing in a long queue for check-in, and they didn’t have their names on the airline list.”