Duped Workers Detain Suspected Con Man in Phnom Penh

A group of 90 disgruntled workers protested Tuesday outside the office of a recruitment company that they say abandoned most of them at a border checkpoint on Saturday morning and cheated them out of the hundreds of dollars they had paid to work in Thailand.

The workers, who had registered with Chin Vanda Manpower, arrived outside the firm’s Sen Sok district office Tuesday morning after 63 of them were left at a guesthouse at the Duong International Checkpoint in Battambang province by a fixer named Seng Salen, according to 35-year-old worker Douch Phors.

A woman cries during a protest outside the office of Chin Vanda Manpower in Phnom Penh's Sen Sok district on Tuesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
A woman cries during a protest outside the office of Chin Vanda Manpower in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Tuesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

“We waited a long time at the border without hearing any good news, then we realized that the company had cheated us,” Mr. Phors said. “I know they cheated me because they just brought us to the border without the border documents and the representative lied and then he fled.”

The workers—who said they had made payments of between $250 and $400 to the company, which was run by Chin Vanda—returned by bus to Phnom Penh on Sunday and Monday after they realized Mr. Salen was not coming back for them, Mr. Phors said. The group arrived at the firm’s office Tuesday to find it empty and the company’s logo removed.

Calls made to the company’s phone number Tuesday went unanswered.

However, as the workers were standing outside the office, some of them spotted Mr. Salen riding his motorcycle and detained him, according to Chhang Moa, a 28-year-old worker.

“This morning we saw Mr. Salen driving his motorbike by chance, then we arrested him,” he said.

Speaking to a reporter while surrounded by the workers, Mr. Salen denied conning the group and claimed he did not return to the guesthouse because he had not received the payment from Mr. Vanda for the workers’ visas and other expenses.

“My boss said he would transfer the money to me to pay the guesthouse and for food for the migrant workers but he kept delaying the time to transfer the money,” Mr. Salen said. “I didn’t go back to meet with the migrant workers because my boss did not transfer the money to me.”

Contacted later Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Phors said he had driven Mr. Salen to the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, and that they had detained him.

Officials at the department could not be reached.

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