Police Preparing to Search Casino Site for Chinese Fraudsters

Immigration police are preparing to search an under-construction casino in Sihanoukville for a large group of Chinese nationals believed to be operating an online extortion ring, officials said Monday.

Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said his officials were waiting for the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court to approve a search warrant so they could inspect the casino site, where the 60 men are thought to be staying.

“We will check out the place where there are Chinese men in Preah Sihanouk province living together, but we need to wait for the search warrant from the court first,” Major General Heisela said.

He declined to give the name of the casino or explain how dozens of alleged extortionists had come to set up shop there, citing the sensitivity of the investigation.

In recent years, police have uncovered a number of sophisticated extortion rings operating out of Cambodia, with most using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to place cheap calls to marks in other countries, particularly China.

Maj. Gen. Heisela said immigration police planned to check whether the foreigners had proper visas and work permits, and whether they were in possession of computer equipment that would indicate a VoIP-based extortion ring.

Im Vorleak, chief of the province’s foreigner police unit, said he had formed a team to assist immigration officials in their investigation.

In a separate case, 38 Chinese men arrested at a casino in Poipet City last week on suspicion of involvement in a VoIP extortion ring will be deported soon, according to Sieng Sen, director of the Interior Ministry’s internal security department.

“We are waiting for approval from the Chinese Embassy and the interior minister, but we don’t know an exact date yet,” Lieutenant General Sen said, adding that investigators had finished questioning the men, who are being detained at his department’s headquarters.

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