PHNOM PENH • Cambodia has arrested more than 200 Chinese men and women suspected of running an online scam that persuaded victims to send nude photographs and then extorted cash from them, police said yesterday.
The sweeping arrests come as the South-east Asian country cracks down on Chinese cybercrime gangs that use Web technology to target their fellow citizens.
The gang in Cambodia allegedly used Internet voice calls to contact victims in China, building up relationships with its targets over time.
It then asked its victims to send nude pictures, which were used to blackmail them, police said.
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After a tip-off from the Chinese authorities, Cambodian police raided an apartment compound along the border with Thailand on Wednesday and detained 215 Chinese men and women.
"We are questioning them. Nearly 200 of them were involved in the crimes," said Mr Uk Hai Sela, head of investigations at the Cambodian immigration department.
He said the scammers could get between 10,000 yuan (S$2,023) and 100,000 yuan from each victim, raking in between US$30,000 (S$40,805) and US$40,000 each week.
China has become increasingly assertive about extraditing fraud suspects who operate from abroad in a bid to avoid detection.
Cambodia has deported hundreds of suspected Chinese telephone and Internet fraudsters in recent years.
They include 74 Chinese nationals who were accused of running an online extortion racket last month.
Last week, it moved to deport another 31 fraud suspects, including seven Taiwanese, to mainland China.
The move set off criticism from the Taiwanese authorities who insist their citizens be returned to the island.
Taiwan split from China in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing - one of Cambodia's closest allies - still sees the self-ruling island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Last month, 44 people from China and Taiwan were arrested in Thailand for allegedly running an elaborate phone scam that conned US$3 million from scores of victims, most of them based in China.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE PHNOM PENH POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK