Chinese internet scammers operating out of Cambodia have changed their tactics and begun using sexual images to bribe money from victims, according to a senior immigration official.
His comments came as 74 Chinese nationals, including 21 women, were deported yesterday after allegedly extorting money from people in China via the internet.
The deportation was arranged by the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Immigration Police through Phnom Penh International Airport.
The suspects were taken to the airport under armed guard, where 200 Chinese police officials were waiting to meet them and escort them onto the plane.
Uk Heisela, director of the Investigation and Procedure Department at the Interior Ministry’s Immigration General Department, said the 74 Chinese nationals were arrested on July 1 in Kampot province and Phnom Penh.
They were allegedly involved in extorting money from people in China using internet phone calls, otherwise known as VoiP.
“This is the first VoiP crime in 2017. We have previously deported Chinese nationals more than 10 times,” he said. “More than 500 Chinese suspects have been involved in VoiP crimes here. We have been deporting them from Cambodia since we began cracking down on this crime.”
Mr Heisela said this latest scam was different from previous ones because the suspects used pictures of a sexual nature to extort money from people in China.
He said they used women to chat online to male victims. The women showed their naked bodies to the victims, while a third party then threatened to release the conversations and photos to extort money from those targeted.
In the past, fraudsters have used fake police and court documents to extort victims, threatening to kill their families.
“The suspects were based in Cambodia but they extorted victims in China. All 74 Chinese nationals come from China’s Hunan province,” Mr Heisela said.
“The victims lost between 1,000 and 30,000 yuan ($150 and $4,500) each. Some commit suicide because they are ashamed and have lost everything.”
Of the 74 suspects, 58 had passports but the rest had entered the country illegally.
Mr Heisela added that more than 1,000 people from 35 countries have been deported this year and more than 10,000 have been ejected from the country since the immigration department was created.
Of those 10,000, the majority were Vietnamese followed by Chinese nationals, he said.