A Cambodian court is holding 22 Chinese nationals for trial following their arrest Saturday on charges they had operated a phone-based fraud scheme from a rented villa in the country’s southeast Svay Rieng province, sources said.
The group, including 19 men and three women, were taken into custody by police on Aug. 29 and are now being held at a detention center in the province, a senior local police official told RFA’s Khmer Service.
“They have already confessed to operating an Internet scam and extorting money through the Internet,” provincial police Minor Crimes Department chief Keo Sotha said.
“We are now holding them in detention,” Keo Sotha said.
The group have already been charged with crimes including violations of privacy on the telephone, obstructing the operations of automatic telephone systems, illegally downloading and deleting data, and forming a criminal association, he said.
They were arrested at a rented villa for which they had paid about $1,300 monthly, and which they had occupied since the beginning of the year, Keo Sotha said.
The villa’s owner had been blocked from entering the property by the occupants and has not been charged with any crime, he added.
Other Chinese were targets
The suspects had used online audio communications to carry out their crimes, which had targeted mainly other Chinese, according to Cambodian media sources.
“We found many tools related to Voice Over Internet Protocol [VoIP] being used . . . to extort money from Chinese people,” Interior Ministry Anti-Terrorism chief General Y Sokhy said in a Phnom Penh Post report on Aug. 31.
Attempts typically involved calls made to China in which the suspects warned targets that their bank accounts had been compromised and urged the transfer of funds to other, supposedly safer accounts, the Post said, citing Chinese media accounts.
In a similar case last year, Cambodian police arrested 80 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals for extorting money over the phone, the Post said.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.