Scores of Chinese Arrested for Phone Scam

The Interior Ministry’s internal security department arrested 78 Chinese nationals Thursday for their alleged involvement in a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) extortion scam in coordinated raids in Phnom Penh and two provinces.

The men and women were arrested in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and Takeo provinces after a weeklong investigation following a complaint from the Chinese Embassy, said internal security department Director Chhay Sinarith.

Mr. Sinarith said the embassy complained to the Interior Ministry on behalf of alleged victims in China who reported that they were being extorted by a group operating out of Cambodia.

“We received the complaint from the victims in China and we took one week to investigate and arrest them,” Mr. Sinarith said.

“They are accused of extorting money from the victims in China from here over the Internet…. They are now being detained at the internal security department for questioning before they will be sent to court.”

And though his department spent a week investigating the case, Mr. Sinarith said he had no other details about the alleged crime.

“This is the second time we arrested a group of VoIP extortionists this year,” he said, but did not comment on whether the two cases were linked.

Police arrested 12 Chinese nationals on identical allegations in Phnom Penh in February.

Dozens of Chinese and Taiwanese citizens have been arrested here and deported in the past two years for similar scams, in which Chinese-speaking fraudsters call targets in China over VoIP and convince them to wire money on various illegal or extortionate pretexts.

Mr. Sinarith said the 78 people arrested Thursday included six in Phnom Penh, 44 in Siem Reap and 28 in Takeo.

He said almost all arrests in such cases used to be made in Phnom Penh, but that Cambodia’s increasing connectivity was allowing these groups to set up and operate ever more easily in the provinces.

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