March 18, 2024 3 min read


Cambodia Officials Urged to Hunt Down Key Scam Gang Figures

Cambodia officials have been asked to start targeting important figures of scam gangs in the country that are currently plaguing Sihanoukvill

At the start of the year, Cambodia announced it closed down more than 200 illegal gambling businesses

Recently, country officials have been urged to hunt down “key figures” who are protecting the industry dominated by Chinese scam gangs plaguing the coastal city of Sihanoukville, also referred to as “sin city.”

Flourishing Scam Industry  

The country’s ongoing crackdowns in “sin city” have proven that they are still powered by the scam industry, according to observers. 

This is despite the continuous efforts employed by the government to completely eradicate the Chinese crime gangs that have generated billions of dollars using cyber fraud.

At the start of March, officials made over 450 arrests regarding alleged illegal online gambling scams as well as “pig-butchering” scam businesses that were thriving behind the masks of legal casinos.

Similar operations have been observed in condominiums and commercial buildings turned into worker dormitories, offices, and different support sites that the criminal gangs used to run their cyber-fraud businesses.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes in Southeast Asia and the Pacific’s deputy representative, Benedikt Hofman, the high level of concern and efforts shown by local authorities did not suffice to eradicate the scam operations. 

According to Cambodia-based Chinese reporter, Huang Yan, police raids normally target small and obscure scam operations. 

Post-crackdown, city governor Kuoch Chamroeun made a Facebook appeal, asking for information that would help locate Zhong Huokun, a Chinese national who is suspected of owning one of the two raided locations on March 9-10.

According to the Chinese reporter, before the crackdown, “they always arrested the low-level staff members” while failing to catch general managers of the scam groups. 

This is why the governor’s appeal is “very interesting” as it is a first. 

Gambling Reform Did Not Bring Improvements

According to Ros Phirun, secretary general of the Commercial Gambling Management Committee of Cambodia, the higher fees and revenue for gaining gambling permits did not trigger the expected results when it comes to controlling the sector. 

In other words, as explained by a CyberScamMonitor representative, the extra attention given to their activities did not scare off scam businesses in the city. 

On the contrary, it would appear that the industry is deeply embedded in the country, given the evidence showing how “powerful elite actors” are taking advantage of it and guaranteeing its survival.

To tackle the problem the right way, “a comprehensive and sustained crackdown is needed” together with the right type of legal action against the “key figures” running orange protecting the sector. 

At the start of 2023, Cambodia announced it made 1,241 arrests in the first half of 2023 in illegal gambling cases.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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