Two Russian nationals were arrested Saturday and charged with counterfeiting $240 in U.S. notes by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court after they tried to buy a telephone card with the fake money earlier that day, police officials said.
The Russian men—Denis Baydakov, 30, and Aleksei Nesterenko, 34—were detained by vendors in Sihanoukville’s Bei commune and brought to the police station there after they attempted to purchase a $10 phone card with a counterfeit bill, according to deputy provincial police chief San Bun Thorn.
Police then seized $240 in fake currency from the men, he said.
“They brought a $10 note to buy a telephone card, but the seller realized the money was fake and arrested them and sent them to the police,” said Mr. Bun Thorn, adding that the counterfeit bills in their possession were relatively sophisticated and might easily fool a person who was not paying close attention.
“They were just like the real ones; people from the countryside would not realize” they were fake, he said.
Just a day before their arrest, on Friday, Mr. Baydakov and Mr. Nesterenko were also caught using counterfeit cash and brought to the police station, but were released after being “educated,” Mr. Bun Thorn said.
“They were educated by us on January 30 after they used [fake] $5 notes to buy candles in the market,” Mr. Bun Thorn said. “They were arrested by a vendor and sent to us, but we just educated them because we thought it was not a big deal.”
He said the Russians had also stolen a bottle of wine from a liquor store earlier in January.
Chao Meng, chief of the provincial police’s economic crime bureau, said the pair told police they were beggars and claimed to have received the $240 in counterfeit notes from another foreigner they had asked for money.
A post on the National Police website, however, identified the men as professional tattoo artists.
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