Land Scam Couple Allegedly Impersonated Relatives of PM’s Wife

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Adviser Seng Tieng, right, pictured with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Battambang on October 24, 2022. (Hun Sen’s Facebook page)
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Stung Treng city authorities are investigating a couple who allegedly scammed tens of thousands of dollars from around 100 families by claiming to be relatives of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany and his adviser Seng Tieng.

Stung Treng commune police chief Chhim Sophy named the couple as Kim Pov and Nhanh Sophoan, and alleged they had been running a land scam since 2021.

They sold plots of purported land near the Sesan dam while claiming to be Rany’s nephew as well as Tieng’s sister, collecting money from families but failing to deliver and later threatening them, Sophy said. They had worked secretly without the knowledge of local officials, he said.

Stung Treng provincial administration spokesman Men Kong said authorities began an investigation earlier this week.

Mekong News and other local video outlets on Monday broadcast an interview with a woman identified only as Navy, where she said she had lost $38,000 to Pov and Sophoan.

The couple offered her 5 hectares, and after an initial payment of just over $100 for paperwork in early 2021, she made regular payments of a couple thousand dollars each, Navy said in the interview.

When Sophoan came to collect money from people, “she claimed that she was the sibling of Seng Tieng, and His Excellency Seng Tieng cut off 600 hectares of land to give them to sell.”

She said the families believed the couple because of their purported elite connections. The couple then used those claims to threaten the scam victims, Navy alleged.

“We have audio and video of them claiming that if people claim the money back, they will die or be jailed, and they said the money was already handed to a ministry,” she said.

Tieng has been the target of previous alleged impersonations, including a man who put up a sign saying his Battambang farm was the property of the prime ministerial adviser to try to ward off an encroaching mineral company.

Separately, Stung Treng provincial authorities said they were investigating a 9,000-hectare economic land economic concession recently relocated into a forest in the province.

Provincial spokesman Kong said officials would try to figure out clearly whether people are living on any of the concession land or whether some people had come into the area after it was granted to the concession.

Some of the land was previously given to another company, but it then handed it to the Agriculture Ministry to manage before now becoming an economic land concession, he said.

“This work needs to study thoroughly to see when the people came to cultivate on the land, and how much of the land was encroached upon and cultivated [after the concession].”

Satellite imagery shows the area was intact forest — with no roads — until the concession was announced in March last year.

The concession was formerly in Kratie province, but moved due to conflicts with existing residents. It was also transferred from Horizon Agriculture Development to another company, TSMW.

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