Three Cambodian officials nabbed for bribing police to free VoIP scammers

On Monday the Phnom Penh Municipal court sent three officials from the General Department of Identification and General Department of Immigration to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) for purportedly attempting to bribe the police to let out 18 detained Chinese nationals.

The arrests were made in relation to the reports made that there were three officials sent to ACU or anti-corruption unit for VoIP bribery attempt to free 18 Chinese nationals who were caught in an alleged involvement around the VoIP scam.

VoIP is the technology that converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices. There are a huge number of scams reported regarding VoIP. Some are even used for fraudulent activities and even money heists. 

Some of these scams include but not limited to; getting lucky draw messages that you won a prize amount, receiving random calls about claiming products, impersonating kidnappers to make the parents send a huge amount of money for their “kidnapped” child.

There are many forms of VoIP scams, and some are resolved, and others are not. With this, the case of the detainees is no more than different. 

According to Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Say Nora, these Chinese nationals are detained because of alleged involvement in a Voice over Internet Protocol ( VoIP) online money extortion scam in Kampong Speu province. 

In exchange for the release of the 18 detainees, national Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said that three officials had taken $40,000 to bribe the provincial police chief.

They were detained in Kampong Speu province on Thursday.

The court sent the officials to the ACU to comply with due procedures due to the case was a special offense coinciding with Judicial Police officials, Nora said on Monday.

Two of the three officials sent to the ACU were under the general department of identification – deputy director Soeu Sitha and Khmer Nationality Bureau head Rath Pin.

The other official, Vann Sophea, headed the Procedural Compliance Bureau at the General Department of Immigration.

“Regarding the bribes, after I reviewed the case and finished questioning them, I sent them to the ACU to review the special offense. The case report and documentation have been sent too, and tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, they will be sent back to court,” Nora said.

Last Wednesday, national Police spokesman Kim Khoeun said, the Kampong Speu police headquarters conducted an operation which caused the detention of 18 Chinese nationals in Baset district’s Svay Chachib commune for their alleged role in a VoIP online money extortion.

The three officials intervened and attempted to secure the release of the Chinese suspects, said provincial governor Vei Samnang on Monday.

“They thought our officials were corrupt. They offered money to release [the Chinese nationals]. We told them we could only release eight people for $40,000 and they said eight people are OK.”

“Then they said that if we released twelve people, they would give us $150,000. We arrested the three and confiscated the $40,000,” he said.

“We arrested them on July 18 because they were involved in accepting $40,000 in bribery for the release of Chinese nationals,” Lt Gen Sok Khy said.

He said that Mr. Sitha, Mr. Pin, and Mr. Sopheap are being questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Kuch Kimlong, the spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court, could not be reached for any comments regarding the incident.

According to the local news, the three officers’ case was handled by the Anti-corruption Unit related to corruption.

Scammers are inventing new scams just for VoIP, since using VoIP is easy to create fake numbers. This is also one of the reasons why phishing scams are on the rise since criminals can also hide their tracks and pull off these scams with minimal risk of being detected.

Protecting yourself is simple, set policies on information-sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications so that a “guide flow” would be made in dealing with random callers. With this information, flow can be controlled, and the possibility of your company being phished and scammed would lessen. This also would apply to each individual using the VoIP network.

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