400 Chinese and Taiwanese arrested in Cambodia over telecom fraud

Chinese nationals suspected of telecom fraud are escorted into a bus to an airport in Preah Sihanouk province, awaiting deportation to China, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Chinese nationals suspected of telecom fraud are escorted into a bus to an airport in Preah Sihanouk province, awaiting deportation to China, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. PHOTO: REUTERS

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - The Cambodian authorities have arrested nearly 400 people from China and Taiwan this month for allegedly operating a telecoms scam to defraud victims in China, police said on Thursday (Aug 17).

China has been battling telecoms fraud that has cost billions of dollars in financial losses, say the authorities in Beijing, who accuse Taiwan of harbouring criminal gangs behind many of the scams.

Cambodia is one of China's closest allies in South-east Asia and does not recognise the government of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a wayward province.

Cambodia has deported more than 600 Chinese and Taiwanese in recent years in a crackdown on Internet and telecoms scams orchestrated from the South-east Asian nation.

Police in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Wednesday arrested 225 Chinese nationals, 25 women among them, who are suspected of running an extortion scheme using Internet voice call technology, said Mr Thou Saroeun, deputy director of the anti-terrorism police department. "We are processing the case and we don't know yet when this will move to deportation," he told Reuters.

On Aug 2, police arrested 151 Chinese and three Taiwanese in the provinces of Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey, Mr Uk Heisela, investigations chief of the immigration department, told Reuters.

The suspects await deportation to China and some will be sent back this week, he said. "I don't know when exactly, that depends on when China sends a plane," he said.

The authorities in Taiwan have accused Cambodia of acting at China's behest.

Last month, Cambodia deported 105 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects to China, prompting a protest from the self-ruled island to Phnom Penh.

China has defended the deportations of people from Taiwan to China from places such as Cambodia by saying the victims were all in China and so the criminals should face justice in China.