Hundreds of Vehicles Missing in Russei Keo Pawn Shop Scam

At least 125 people claim to have had their cars stolen after allowing a bogus company to rent them out, only to find that the vehicles were later sold to a pawnshop in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, police said Wednesday.

Sixty car owners gathered at the Ly Hour pawnshop on Wednesday after documents were obtained showing that a couple, Yu Sukhun and Keo Sreynit—who told people they were brokers working for a tourism company—sold their cars on as part of a scam.

“We know that 125 people have lost their vehicles and that a total of 210 cars have gone missing after a couple rented them out for a private tourism company,” said Tuol Sangke commune police chief Huy Hean.

Victims allege that they were approached by the couple, who would ask if the cars could be used for a fixed period of time to rent out to tourists. Once the contracts were signed, the owners surrendered the cars and received a monthly remuneration.

The furor erupted, however, after payments stopped, and irate people went to the brokers’ house, where they found pawnshop receipts for the cars.

“They went to this [Ly Hour] pawnshop, as they wanted to know if the suspects sent the cars to be pawned or not,” Mr. Hean said. “But they found nothing after comparing car plate numbers.”

Among the victims of the scam is Anlong Krangan village chief Chan Chea, who said he had rented out his Toyota Camry in June.

“My neighbor told me about the company and that many people allowed their cars to be rented out,” he said.

He said he received a total of $1,300 before payments stopped and he suspected something was amiss.

He said Mr. Sukhun and Ms. Sreynit told him they worked for a tourism company called CMP, but that there is no record of its existence.

“Of the 30 or 40 cars that were rented from people in my village, only three have been found in Kandal province,” Mr. Chea said, adding that the suspects had allegedly fled their home in Chak Angre Krom commune.

Nem Saroeun, 39, claims the suspects made off with seven cars that her family owned, but that they managed to get one car back.

Phnom Penh municipal minor crimes bureau police chief Bun Satya said more than 100 people had filed complaints and that police are investigating.

“The police found 10 cars in Kandal province on Wednesday, but we do not know exactly how many cars are lost or were pawned,” Mr. Satya said.

A woman who answered the phone at Ly Hour and declined to give her name said the shop had nothing to do with the missing cars.

“My company is not involved; they were cheated by other people, not my company. They should send this case to court,” she said.

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