More than 60 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals were arrested in a Phnom Penh raid yesterday on suspicion of operating an internet scam using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, an immigration official said.
Sixty-four suspects, among them eight women, were detained in Chbar Ampov district’s Veal Sbov commune for allegedly carrying out the fraud, said Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department.
Major General Heisela said the raid on a rented house followed a monthslong covert investigation into a suspected extortion racket.
The immigration department “found the place and conducted an investigation for three months prior to taking action,” he said.
During the raid, officials confiscated 57 VoIP boxes, 57 Wi-Fi routers and eight laptops, he said, adding that all of the suspects were sent to the immigration department for questioning.
The Associated Press quoted Maj. Gen. Heisela as saying the group, which included 12 people from Taiwan, were accused of swindling victims in mainland China.
“These suspects are now detained by immigration police for questioning and then we will deport them back to China,” Maj. Gen. Heisela was reported as saying.
In June, 39 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects arrested for a similar scam being run out of a villa in Phnom Penh were deported to China. Despite diplomatic protests by Taipei to have the 25 Taiwanese suspects sent back home to stand trial, Cambodia heeded Beijing’s request to send them to China.
Cambodia has been host to a spate of VoIP scams in in recent years, with Cambodian and Chinese officials regularly cooperating to track down fraudsters who use technology that masks the location of calls and makes them difficult to trace.
In November, 168 suspected Chinese cybercriminals were arrested in Sihanoukville over suspicion of running a VoIP ring.
In two other raids yesterday, the immigration department detained 17 Vietnamese nationals at two karaoke bars in Daun Penh district for not having valid passports, according to Maj. Gen. Heisela.
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