Twenty-three South Korean men were arrested in Cambodia on suspicion of running an Internet gambling operation inside two rented houses.
Local media The Cambodia Daily reported that members of the anti-terrorism police raided two homes in Sen Sok district in Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city of Cambodia.
Authorities told reporters the men were accused of using VoIP technology “to extort money from people in South Korea,” after investigators discovered a large volume of outgoing calls from the two residential properties.
A court clerk told the news outlet the men were facing charges of facilitating illegal online gambling.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, the men—some of them have been frequent visitors in Cambodia in the past—arrived in the country between late 2015 and early this year.
Lieutenant General Y Sok Khy, director of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Combating Terrorism and Transnational Crimes, told the Phnom Penh Post: “They did not ask for permission to use technology to operate online gaming and there are other things connected to crimes.”
In another interview with Xinhuanet, Khy said “more than 20 sets of desktop computers and other materials were seized as evidence.”
A separate Yonhap News report stated that the South Korean embassy has already coordinated with the government of Cambodia via its diplomatic envoy “to provide the suspects with consular access after being informed of the arrest.” Government officials are also arranging to have the investigations and legal proceedings conducted in a “swift and fair” manner.
In 2014, 15 South Korean men were arrested in a villa in the Tuol Kork district over their alleged involved in online football gambling.
Online gambling is strictly prohibited in Cambodia, and anyone caught will be investigated by the country’s Intelligence Unit. In recent years, Cambodian authorities were able to arrest several groups of tourists on charges of illegal gambling and telecom scams.
Last November, nearly 170 Chinese nationals in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on charges of extorting money from people in China using VoIP. The raid has scared off workers, customers, and even investors of the then newly-opened Victory Hill casino, prompting the casino to suspend its operations.