Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday charged and detained a 54-year-old traditional healer for cheating a 32-year-old man out of $21,000 last year.
The accused was identified as Yem Sovann, a Khmer traditional healer living in Phnom Penh Thmey commune in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, in court documents.
Mr Sovann was charged with fraud and faces up to three years in jail if convicted. He is currently in pre-trial detention after he was arrested on Friday.
Major Sok Bunthoeun, deputy chief of Penal Police Office Department in Phnom Penh, yesterday said that on August 3, the accused sold a statue of Buddha that he claimed was made of bronze to the victim, Keo Hongkunthea, 32, a real estate businessman living in Tuol Sangke commune in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. Mr Sovann inititally asked for $45,000 for the statue.
Maj Bunthoeun said that after negotiations, the accused accepted a final price of $21,000.
“When he was trying to sell the statue, the accused told the victim that the statue of Buddha was made of bronze,” Maj Bunthoeun said. “It was a very powerful and sacred object. The accused said that if or when the victim wanted to re-sell it to someone else, he could sell it for a higher price and earn even more money, to over $100,000.”
“The victim trusted what the accused said and was very happy. He then bought it for the price of $21,000,” he added.
Maj Bunthoeun noted that after buying the statue, Mr Hongkunthea kept it in his home in Russey Keo district.
He said that a few days later, the victim took the statue to sell it to a jewellery shop in the city. The owner of the shop did not buy it after inspecting the statue and discovering that it was not made of bronze, he added.
Maj Bunthoeun said that Mr Hongkunthea became very angry after realising he had been cheated by the accused. The victim tried to find the accused in order to claim back his money but could not find him, he added.
Maj Bunthoeun said that the victim filed a complaint against the accused on August 6 to Phnom Penh Municipal Police.
Maj Bunthoeun added that the accused was arrested on Friday in his rental house in Sen Sok district and was sent to Phnom Penh Municipal district for questioning on Saturday.