A Buddhist monk was yesterday defrocked, arrested and charged with fraud for cheating 39 people out of $140,000 by promising them jobs with the National Police.
The suspect was identified as Seng Sary, 36, the deputy chief of Nokor Bachey pagoda, in Kampong Cham province’s Kampong Siem district.
Heng Vuthy, chief of the provincial Major Crimes Unit in Kampong Cham province, said the popular monk told victims he would bribe high-ranking Interior Ministry officials on their behalf to secure them jobs as police officers.
Mr Vuthy said the suspect took between $3,000 and $5,000 from each victim, but failed to come up with the jobs.
Chea Sophon, deputy chief of Kampong Siem district police, said the scam began in April, when Mr Seng Sary told villagers he knew National Police chief General Neth Savoeun, as well as other high-ranking Interior Ministry officials.
“He told villagers he could find them jobs as police officials, due to his close relationships with high-ranking officers,” Mr Sophon said.
Villagers began contacting the monk and asking for jobs on behalf of their sons.
Venerable Seng Sary told people they would have to pay $3,000 for a policeman’s job and $5,000 for a first-ranked police officer. He promised the jobs would be available within one month.
“He did not find the jobs and he did not return the money to villagers,” Mr Sophon said. “The victims later filed a complaint against him with provincial police.”
He added that during his interrogation, the suspect confessed to the scam. However he claimed he had given the cash to a high-ranking police official at the Interior Ministry.
Neither Interior Ministry nor National Police spokesmen could be reached for comment yesterday.
The suspect has been temporarily detained in prison and faces up to three years behind bars if convicted.