Couple arrested for procuring Thais to work for phone scammers in Cambodia

Couple arrested for procuring Thais to work for phone scammers in Cambodia

Suspect Natthakorn Duangwong, 28, is detained during a raid in Sa Kaeo on Thursday. The suspect and his wife Oyjai Khotram, 34, have been accused of luring Thai job seekers into working for a phone scam gang in Cambodia. (Photo supplied)
Suspect Natthakorn Duangwong, 28, is detained during a raid in Sa Kaeo on Thursday. The suspect and his wife Oyjai Khotram, 34, have been accused of luring Thai job seekers into working for a phone scam gang in Cambodia. (Photo supplied)

A couple have been arrested in Sa Kaeo province for allegedly procuring Thai job seekers to work for a phone scam gang in Cambodia.

A combined team of police led by the Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) raided suspected locations in Sa Kaeo to arrest members of a major phone scam network on Thursday, said Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, deputy national police chief and director of the PCT.

The team apprehended Natthakorn Duangwong, 28 and his wife Oyjai Khotram, 34, who allegedly tricked Thais into working for the scammers in Cambodia.

The couple have been charged with colluding in illegal assembly, forcing others to act against their will with threats to their lives, illegal detention, forcing people to work as slaves or smuggling people out of the country, colluding in transnational crime and related offences.

Pol Gen Damrongsak said the operation was in line with national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk’s policy to crack down on phone scam gangs preying on Thais.

A police investigation found that Mr Natthakorn and his wife had allegedly worked for a Chinese gangster, enticing Thai job seekers into working in Cambodia with a promise of high wages and comfortable jobs.

After picking them up, the couple would take the job seekers across the border to work for a phone scam gang in Cambodia, said Pol Gen Damrongsak.

The investigators have obtained evidence to substantiate charges against the couple and sought court approval to arrest them.

During questioning, police said, the suspects confessed to all charges and implicated Sukhonthanarak Nakchan, 34, a Thai man, in the scam.

Mr Sukhonthanarak had supervised and controlled scammers in Cambodia, said Pol Maj Gen Theeradet Thamsuthee, an investigation commander at Provincial Police Region 2 who joined the operation.

The operation team also searched two houses in Khok Sung district of Sa Kaeo allegedly used as safehouses for job seekers before they were smuggled across the border. Evidence collected included bank accounts in the names of Ms Chutima Pranaprakhon and Mr Thanakorn Chantharapirom, border pass documents of the two people, and a book detailing expenses.

Police took Mr Natthakorn and Ms Oyjai to point out the area where they took job seekers to cross the border to Cambodia. The area was a paddy field behind the Sadok Kok Thom ancient stone ruins in Sa Kaeo. From this area, they had to walk about 4km to reach the border.

After crossing the border, waiting Cambodian nationals would lead the Thais further inside the country. 

A man who claimed he had fallen victim to a phone scam gang and then managed to escape told police he and other Thais had been made to dupe Thais into transferring money to the gangs. They had been forced to work 15 hours a day without holidays. If they resisted, they would be tortured, he told Pol Gen Damrongsak.

Police have issued arrest warrants for another 17 people allegedly involved. 

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