Chinese, Taiwanese Nationals Nabbed in Phone Extortion Rings

National Military Police on Friday arrested 34 Chinese nationals and three Cambodians following a raid on two locations in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district that officials said was being used as base for an international extortion ring targeting victims in China.

The raid followed a similar mass arrest in Kompong Cham prov­ince’s Suong City on Wednesday where 24 Chinese and two Taiwanese nationals were found to be engaged in a similar extortion ring, which involved telephone calls made over the Internet to people in China.

“We arrested 34 of them this morning in Toek La’ak and Boeng Kak 1 communes,” national military police spokesman Kheng Tito said of the Chinese suspects.

According to Mr. Tito, the scam involves placing calls to government officials and rich business people in China and threatening to expose them for alleged acts of corruption, and demanding money from them to buy silence in the matter.

“They call those people and say they know something bad about them or their families. Then they threaten the victims to give them money,” Mr. Tito said, adding that the suspects were found after a long investigation involving the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Cambodia is being used as a base for the extortion rackets, several of which have been uncovered in recent years, as a way of preventing the Chinese government from tracing where the threatening calls are being made from.

On Thursday, military police in Kompong Cham City began questioning the 24 Chinese and two Taiwanese nationals arrested in Suong City on Wednesday.

“The Chinese and Taiwanese will be charged with cheating and extorting money,” Mr. Tito said on Thursday, adding that the house in which the group was discovered contained Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) equipment and many phones that were used to call China.

Mr. Tito said the group arrested in Phnom Penh was not related to the group discovered in Suong City.

Earlier this month, 39 Chinese nationals were arrested in four separate districts in Phnom Penh for allegedly using VoIP to extort money. Thirty of the suspects have already been deported to China.

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