Seven Arrested for Duping Festival Vendors

Police arrested seven men, including three men posing as security officials, for illicitly collecting fees from Water Festival vendors who were selling their goods near the Royal Palace, an official said Friday.

Daun Penh district governor Kouch Chamroeun said district police arrested seven men—one fake police officer, a fake military police officer, a fake security guard and four employees of a tax collection company—who were demanding small sums of money from people selling goods to festivalgoers.

“All these men extorted money from people, between 1,000 and 2,000 riel [$0.25 and $0.50], saying if they didn’t give it to them, they would not be allowed to sell their food there,” Mr. Chamroeun said.

Among the group, one man was dressed in a police uniform complete with a walkie-talkie, and one had donned a military police uniform, while another wore a park security guard uniform, he said.

The other four men worked for a company that claimed it had a license to collect payments from festival vendors.

Mr. Chamroeun declined to give the name of the company, but said that there was a citywide policy during the festival this year to allow street vendors to sell their goods without an official tax.

“The governor of Phnom Penh has not allowed the collection of any payments [from vendors] but to keep order and security for them,” he said. “There were some complaints about authorities collecting money. That is why our district authorities went to check themselves and saw these cases.”

Sours Sopheak, a Daun Penh district police officer, said six of the men are being held at district police headquarters while the man posing as a military police officer has been placed in military police custody.

“It is their private matter,” he said of the seven men. “They took a chance by collecting money from people from the provinces who didn’t know better and just gave it to them.”

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