A Sierra Leonean national and a Liberian national were charged by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Tuesday with fraud and counterfeiting $300,000 in U.S. bills.
The men were arrested after a Japanese man claiming to have been conned by the pair helped police set up a sting.
Gmmett Parbey, 40, from Liberia, and Foday Kamara, 38, from Sierra Leone, were arrested at about 3 p.m. Monday at a hotel in Sihanoukville’s Bei commune following a complaint from Tanaka Shenya, deputy provincial police chief San Bun Thorn said.
Mr. Bun Thorn said the suspects had presented Mr. Shenya with $100 bills that were completely covered in a black substance and told him that there was a special chemical “ink” that would clean them.
“According to the complaint from December 25, both suspects convinced the victim to buy ink to clean the black dollars to become proper money,” he said.
“On December 26, the suspects took a small bottle of the ink to clean the money and then showed the victim that the money turned into proper money.
“The same day, the victim agreed to give them $1,000 more to buy more ink from abroad,” he said.
Mr. Bun Thorn explained that Mr. Parbey and Mr. Kamara convinced Mr. Shenya to give them $3,000 to buy the special ink from the U.S., with a promise to pay him $6,000 once the notes were clean.
Cheo Meng, chief of the provincial police’s anti-economic crimes bureau, said Mr. Shenya grew suspicious of the pair after they repeatedly delayed the cleaning of the notes, claiming a lack of sufficient funds.
“The victim asked the suspects to come to his hotel. However, when they arrived, the police were surrounding [the hotel] and arrested them,” he said.
After the sting, police discovered the men’s counterfeiting operation and about $300,000 in fake notes.
“The suspects denied they committed any crime and claimed they never knew the Japanese man,” Mr. Meng said. “But when they were shown a photo, they claimed they knew him over the phone.”