Cambodia deports 74 Chinese arrested for telecom extortion scams

Chinese nationals (in orange vests) who were arrested over a suspected Internet scam, are escorted by Chinese police officers before they were deported at Phnom Penh International Airport, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 12, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 October 2017
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Cambodia deports 74 Chinese arrested for telecom extortion scams

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodia on Thursday deported 74 Chinese nationals wanted in China on suspicion of extorting money from people there over the Internet and by telephone, Cambodian police said.
This raises the number of people from China and Taiwan who have been deported this year for suspected telecom scams to 346, Uk Heisela, the head of the Cambodian police told reporters at a press conference at the airport in the capital of Phnom Penh.
Several hundred suspected scammers have been arrested in Cambodia, which has emerged as a major center of rackets that have cost the victims billions of dollars.
A team of Chinese police arrived at the airport on a China Southern Airlines flight to pick up the suspects, who wore masks and had numbers marked on pink shirts.
Uk Heisela said the 74 suspects, including 14 women, had been detained on Oct. 5 in the seaside town of Sihanoukville. Two Indonesians were also deported back to their home country.
“They tricked victims in China, the civil servants there, such as teachers, medics and artists,” Uk Heisela said.
In some cases, they had obtained naked pictures of the victims and used them for blackmail, he said.
Cambodia is one of China’s closest allies in Southeast Asia. More than 400 Chinese and Taiwanese were arrested in Cambodia in August alone for suspected telecom scams.
The country’s good Internet connections and relaxed immigration laws have attracted con artists to carry out crimes.


Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

Updated 18 min 38 sec ago
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Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

  • The package bombs’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama
  • Cesar Sayoc’s criminal record dates back to 1991

NEW YORK: A fan of US President Donald Trump who mailed parcel bombs to prominent Democratic figures last October was set to appear in court Thursday, where he was expected to plead guilty to some of the 30 charges against him.
Cesar Sayoc, 57, who was arrested in Florida on October 26 following a massive manhunt, was due in federal court in New York at 4:00 p.m.
Although it was not known which charges he would plead guilty to, all relate to the 16 package bombs he is accused of mailing from a Florida post office to several well-known people who oppose Trump, as well as the Manhattan offices of CNN. He previously pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The packages’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro and several Democratic lawmakers, including 2020 presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
None of the packages exploded or even reached their targets and authorities questioned the actual danger they posed.
But by targeting Democrats, Sayoc — who also goes by the alias Cesar Altieri and was identified by DNA recovered from the packages — helped contribute to heightened tensions during the US midterm election campaign season.
Sayoc’s partial guilty plea Thursday could help mitigate the severity of a sentence if he is convicted on all counts.
As his trial loomed, information from Sayoc’s past began to filter into the public sphere, fueling the debate about extremism in the age of Trump and social media — a debate that grew more urgent as 11 people were shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue later in October.
Estranged from his family and in financial distress, Sayoc lived in a white van plastered in stickers proclaiming his admiration for the US president.
His criminal record dates back to 1991, peppered with convictions for theft, fraud, violence and a threat to bomb his electric utility company.
A former strip club manager and an adept bodybuilder and martial arts practitioner, Sayoc discovered a passion for Trump just as his political star was rising.
His social media posts took a politically radical turn: he’s seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, sharing pro-Trump images and posting articles from ultra-conservative and conspiracy-driven websites such as Infowars and Breitbart.
“He was very angry and angry at the world, at blacks, Jews, gays,” recalled Debra Gureghian, the general manager of a Florida pizzeria where Sayoc worked as a delivery driver for several months.
Lawyer Ron Lowy, who defended Sayoc in 2002 and remained close to his family, described him on NPR in October as someone whose “intellect is limited, and who is “like a little boy in a man’s body.”