Extortion ring busted in Sihanoukville

By: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Nearly 170 Chinese nationals were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Saturday for allegedly using an internet-based telephone system to extort money from victims back in China, police said yesterday.

Major General Uk Hai Sela, investigations chief at the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department, said the 166 suspects – 18 of them women – were arrested with the help of Chinese authorities in raids on a Sihanoukville villa and guesthouse. The suspects are currently being detained for questioning in Phnom Penh.

“They were all Chinese nationals from mainland China,” Hai Sela said yesterday. “They were arrested when our police forces, cooperating with Chinese Interpol police, raided a luxury villa and a guesthouse in Preah Sihanouk province.

After their arrests, we confiscated a number of VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] telephones, mobile phones and other related materials.”

The suspects are expected to be repatriated on Tuesday, according to the order from the minister of the Interior Ministry, Hai Sela said.

He added that China would send an airplane to collect the suspects.

Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The arrests of such alleged VoIP extortion rings are not uncommon.

In August, a similar bust in Svay Rieng province yielded 22 arrests.

SOURCE: THE PHNOM PENH