Russian Man Arrested for Selling Fake Diamond

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Sunday charged a Russian man and his Cambodian translator with fraud for allegedly selling a fake diamond to a jewelry shop owner in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune.

Preah Sihanouk provincial penal military police chief Var Chanthon identified the 50-year-old Russian man only by his nickname, Vania, and named his translator as Top Phally, 33.

Mr. Chanthon, who led the investigation, said the pair was arrested on Friday during a sting operation set up by military police with the help of the jewelry shop owner, Mom Chenda, 31.

The Russian man—along with two Russian accomplices—originally sold a fake diamond to Ms. Chenda at Thmey market on April 3 for $7,300, and promised to be in touch if he received more diamonds, he said.

Ms. Chenda then had the diamond appraised in Phnom Penh on April 12 and upon being told that it was fake, filed a complaint with Preah Sihanouk military police.

On April 21, the Russian man called Ms. Chenda with news that he had a $38,000 diamond for sale. Ms. Chenda agreed to meet him on Friday, and tipped off military police.

“The shop owner played a trick,” Mr. Chanthon said, explaining that when the Russian man and his translator visited her shop on Friday, Ms. Chenda pretended to bargain for the diamond as military police surrounded the market.

“We arrested them at about 2 p.m. Friday afternoon because they were selling fake diamonds,” he said.

Ream Chanmony, a deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, said he charged the pair Sunday and forwarded their case to an investigating judge. “Today, after the questioning, I charged them with fraud,” he said.

Mr. Chanthon said the suspects were sent to the provincial prison to await trial and that media reports of the Russian man’s arrest led to a second complaint against him, submitted by a Phnom Penh jewelry shop owner on Saturday.

He added that police were seeking to arrest the two Russian men who accompanied “Vania” to Thmey market on April 3.

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