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18 Mär 2024

Danielle Keeton-Olsen, South China Morning Post

Cambodia: Chinese-linked scam industry persists in Sihanoukville despite raids

"Cambodia urged to target ‘key figures’ as Chinese scam gangs defy crackdowns in ‘sin city’" 18 March 2024

Cambodia’s continued crackdowns in Sihanoukville show the coastal “sin city” is still likely powered by the scam industry, observers said, despite mounting pressure on the government to eradicate the predominantly Chinese crime gangs that have made billions of dollars from cyber fraud...

During the latest raid March 9-10, officials arrested more than 450 people who were allegedly part of illegal online gambling and “pig-butchering” scam businesses thriving behind the fronts of authorised casinos...

“The focus on law enforcement and raids will most likely lead to geographic shifts rather than lasting impact,” said Benedikt Hofman, deputy representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, “If past experience is any indication, business will be back in a few months.”...

Police raids usually target relatively small and obscure scam operations, said Huang Yan, a Chinese reporter based in Cambodia...

Under pressure from Southeast Asian neighbours as well as top regional investor China, Cambodian officials have carried out investigations, causing a temporary slowdown on the coastal town’s enterprises...But the scam gangs refuse to leave the kingdom...

The CyberScamMonitor source said the industry had deeply embedded in Cambodia, with evidence of "powerful elite actors" benefiting from it and ensuring its survival.

"To truly tackle the industry and address the reputational damage it has done, a comprehensive and sustained crackdown is needed, along with legal action against the key figures running or protecting the industry."