Thai Card Sharks Busted for High-Tech Hoax

Police have detained six Thai nationals in Banteay Mean­chey province’s Poipet commune for their alleged involvement in a high-tech card-cheating scam at the Vegas Casino, authorities said Sunday.

The six were arrested last week, accused of using a sophisticated sy­stem involving mobile phones hid­den in their shoes to communicate their bets, police said.

“They used very modern technology. It is very scary,” said a police officer who collected and inspected the equipment at the casino on Sunday and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Government spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith confirmed on Sunday that six Thai nationals had been charged with embezzlement.

He said the six were still in the custody of Poipet police and would be transferred to the capital today.

But the officer collecting the equipment said the suspects had already been transferred to Phnom Penh by helicopter for further interrogation and that they had been accompanied by Sok Phal, director of the Ministry of Inter­ior’s Central Security Depart­ment.

Contacted by phone Sunday, Sok Phal, who was in Bangkok, said he knew nothing about the case. He declined to comment on the purpose of his visit to Thailand.

Calls to representatives of the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh went unanswered Sunday, as did calls to the Vegas Casino.

An employee from another Poi­pet casino said he was  shown photographs of the confiscated high-tech equipment by police as part of a city-wide investigation. He de­scribed the equipment as four mobile phones, a small electronic device similar in size and shape to a calculator and two pairs of shoes used to conceal the phones.

The Nation newspaper in Thai­land reported Sunday that nine Thai suspects had been arrested in the alleged scam. Authorities here could not explain the discrepancy between the reported number of people arrested.

The Nation reported that the sus­pects used miniature cameras to send signals to accomplices manning a computer in a hotel room. The accomplices then re­layed card information back to players. The paper said a source estimated the Thais had pocketed more than $2.3 million.

(Additional reporting by Ian Neubauer)


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