A Phnom Penh scam compound staffed with — and targeting — Cambodians was shut down by a police raid last week, but authorities are giving few details about the operation.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng disclosed the raid in a speech on Thursday otherwise about foreigner-led cybercrimes, saying national and municipal police had checked out a Boeng Tompun location during the week where Cambodian workers were scamming Cambodians online.
“This also uses technology fraud — it is a cybercrime,” he said, giving a brief explanation of fraudulent “microfinance” loan offers with exorbitant 30% interest rates that must be repaid in 14 days. “This is fraud against the Cambodian people. … This one is Cambodians added with foreigners to defraud Cambodians.”
The disclosure came amid a speech about forced labor, human trafficking and violence at scam compounds across the country, where global online scams involving cryptocurrency and other fraud have proliferated.
But authorities hesitated to give further details about the Boeng Tompun scam on Monday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police deputy Song Ly said the case was sent to court and suspects placed in pretrial detention, but he would not say how many people were involved.
“We have arrested some people and we have sent all of them [to prison],” he said. “Some of them are Cambodian and some are Chinese.”
“Ask the district police chief, he will be clearer because he was there.”
Meanchey district police chief Ouk Bunin said: “There is such a case, but this case has been handled by the anti-cybercrime department.”
When asked how many people were arrested, he said he did not have that information.
Sok Niya, head of the National Police anti-cybercrime department, said: “It is under investigation and I don’t dare to answer. You can contact the spokesman, His Excellency Chhay Kimkhoeun.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak also referred questions to Kimkhoeun.
National Police spokesman Kimkhoeun did not pick up his phone on Monday.
National Police deputy Y Sokhy referred questions to the Phnom Penh Municipal Police. “I have not received the report yet,” Sokhy said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Sar Thet said: “Ask the [central] security [department] of the National Police. Ask Dy Vichea.”
Vichea, the husband of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana, could not be reached for comment.
Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng said national levels were handling the case, Meanchey district governor Hem Darith said he knew nothing, and Boeng Tompun I commune chief Sous Sarin said he was too busy to comment.