Woman Accused in $100,000 Squatter Fraud

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday charged a woman with cheating as much as $100,000 from squatters in Stung Meanchey commune by claiming to be the director of an NGO that would help them buy homes, officials said Tuesday.

Commune police arrested Lak Sokthyna, 41, on Saturday after more than 200 people submitted a complaint alleging that she conned them out of $100,000, said Municipal Investigating Judge Thong Ol. She is in prison awaiting trial, he said.

“I don’t know yet how many people were cheated,” Thong Ol said.

Lak Sokthyna told residents she was the director of the Cambodian Development Community, an NGO that she claimed helped poor Cambodians buy their own homes, Thong Ol said.

She promised squatters apartments in a building in Stung Meanchey commune if they paid according to a 20-year installment plan, said Men Tith, the commune police chief.

According to the complaint, victims lost an average of $50 to $100, he said.

Officials and victims caught onto the fraud when those who had paid her money asked where their future homes would be, Men Tith said. When she did not show them the land, they asked officials.

Officials had not heard of the Cambodian Development Com­mu­nity and were unaware of any land owned by Lak Sokthyna in the commune, the police chief said. “I always told people to be careful, but they didn’t believe me,” Men Tith said.

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