Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Four Thai Citizens Arrested in Cambodia Over Links to Online Scam and Triple Murder

Cambodian police arrested four Thai nationals in Poipet City allegedly linked to a cyber scam operation and triple murder case. Photo posted on the National Police website on September 11, 2023.
Cambodian police arrested four Thai nationals in Poipet City allegedly linked to a cyber scam operation and triple murder case. Photo posted on the National Police website on September 11, 2023.

Four Thai nationals allegedly linked to a cyber scam operation and triple murder case were arrested in Poipet City near the Thai border over the weekend.

The suspects, Supol Wongwian, Nisarat Sukasem, Kanokporn Kraisuk, and Kornkanok Singthit, face charges of colluding to commit fraud, computer crimes and participating in a transnational crime syndicate according to the Bangkok Post

Keo Vanthan, spokesperson at the General Immigration Department, confirmed that the four suspects have been detained by National Police. He said his department is waiting for approval from the Interior Ministry to request deportations, and could not share the exact deportation date. 

Cambodian National Police worked with Royal Thai Police on the investigation leading up to the identification and arrest of the suspects. 

The National Police say the four arrested are connected to the online scam operation which allegedly motivated a Thai man to murder his family last month. Sanit Dokmai, 41, is accused of murdering his wife and two children before attempting to kill himself after the scam left the family $47,000 in debt.

Last week National Police Chief Sar Thet and Royal Thai Police Deputy Commissioner Surachate Hakparn discussed strengthening police cooperation between the two countries. Hakparn sought cooperation in arresting Thai and Chinese suspects involved in the scam operation related to the triple murder, according to Thai PBS World

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak said the arrests were a result of a joint cooperation with Thai police and added that the Cambodian government has “done a lot” to crack down on scams. 

“They [the media] said we have 2,000 people and now they say we have 100,000 people, and whatever they say, we will continue [to crackdown] for our nation,” Sopheak said, apparently referring to a recent UN report that estimated there have been 100,000 victims forced to carry out online scams in Cambodia. 

Despite many reports linking Cambodians, particularly business and political elites, to online scam operations in the country, Sopheak claimed that Cambodians do not commit these crimes.

“Cambodian citizens do not commit these crimes because Khmer people are not well educated in using computers for online fraud. There are foreigners taking over [Cambodian] locations to commit crimes,” Sopheak said.

The August UN report points out that Cambodia has shifted from a country of origin for trafficking victims to a destination where foreign victims are trafficked to, and states that many of the places in Southeast Asia where people are forced into online criminal activity have weak governance and rule of law. 

Cambodian officials have repeatedly denied that workers were victims of forced labour following their police-assisted release from their workplaces. 

Vice Chairperson of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking Chou Bun Eng and National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun declined to comment.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police Chief Sith Luos could not be reached for comment. The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to a request for comment.  

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator at the human rights group Adhoc, said developing countries like Cambodia have become hiding places for scammers from other countries.

He said the government could use its ability to block certain websites in order to prevent online scams, considering that the prevalence of these cases could lead to less tourists from neighbouring countries and impact Cambodia’s economy.

“It is very important for the new government to pay more attention to this issue because if this is delayed, it will continue to happen and may cause Cambodia to become a hub for the online scam human trafficking industry,” he said.

Additional reporting by Khuon Narim.

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