More than 20 Chinese nationals were arrested on Friday after a raid on their villa in Phnom Penh uncovered an online gambling business, immigration police said on Sunday.
Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said his officers initially began monitoring the group based on a tip that four of the women living in the villa in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune had invalid passports or visas.
This led to a monthlong investigation into activity at the villa, he said. When police finally entered the property, they discovered laptops being used to run an online gambling racket and arrested 22 Chinese citizens between the ages of 25 and 40.
“We arrested 22 Chinese nationals in a villa where we found they were operating illegal gambling on lotteries, baccarat or roulette online,” Major General Heisela said, adding that football was also among the betting options made available by the group.
He said all 22 suspects faced imminent deportation.
Though online gambling falls into a legal gray area in Cambodia, with some local companies allowed to openly advertise such services, the latest raid is not the first to target foreign operators of online gambling sites.
In February, 23 South Korean men were arrested over an internet gambling operation they were suspected of running out of two rented houses in Sen Sok district.
Cambodia has proven to be a choice location for Asian crime syndicates looking for a cheap and poorly regulated country to set up illegal online operations, often using Voice Over Internet Protocol technology—a favored tool among scammers for its ability to mask the source of long-distance calls.
Twenty-five Taiwanese nationals were among a group of 39 arrested in June for operating an internet-phone scam from a villa in Chamkar Mon district that defrauded victims living on mainland China, according to officials. The whole group was sent to face punishment in China despite protests by Taiwan.