Chinese Name: 凱博
Location: Otres Beach, Sangkat Buon, Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia.
The Kaibo development is a massive complex of over 20 buildings sitting a few hundred metres from Otres Beach and located directly northeast of another notorious compound, Jinshui (金水, see profile here). Together this area is commonly referred to as ‘Chinatown’ (中国城).
The Chinatown area has featured in Cambodia-based Chinese language media for some time, but it first came to the attention of English-speaking audiences in July 2021, when the husband of a Philippines national reported that his wife was being held against her will in a complex in the area. On arriving in Sihanoukville after responding to a Facebook job recruitment post, the woman had her passport confiscated and was forbidden to leave. Only after the media covered the story was she finally released. It appears that she was held in the nearby Jinshui compound, but the story brought attention to Chinatown as a whole, and since then there has been ongoing coverage of fraud and online gambling operations, forced labour, and violent crime throughout the area.
Following these reports, in September 2021 the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh released a statement:
Our embassy has noticed that media publications in recent days have exposed the existence of illegal and criminal activities including online gambling, fraud, illegal detention, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, and drug trafficking in the ‘Chinatown’ area of Sihanoukville. The victims involved are citizens of many countries, most of them Chinese. Our embassy attaches great importance to this and is maintaining close communication with the Cambodian side.
The statement went on to say that China and Cambodia maintain high-level law enforcement cooperation, and that the two sides were in communication, making every effort to ‘eliminate numerous obstacles’, and would launch a joint crackdown as soon as possible.
According to media reports, units within Kaibo were rented to companies running a range of online gambling and fraud operations. The connection between this compound and online scams was explicitly made by the Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly (南方周末), which in early 2022 published a dramatic piece of reporting titled ‘Escape from Cambodia’s “City of Online Casinos”’. The article identified numerous locations in Sihanoukville where online scam companies operated ‘hidden’ within, including the so-called Kaibo Chinatown (凯博中国城). Former captives from the Kaibo complex told the authors in 2022 that although different operators control activities in different buildings, they used a Telegram group to share information.
According to numerous media articles and social media postings, people who worked in Kaibo have claimed that failure to perform could result in brutal beatings, and that requests to leave were denied unless individuals pay fees of thousands of dollars. While some have willingly gone to work at Kaibo, others ended up there after responding to deceptive job ads; others again claim to have been kidnapped. In February 2022, Voice of Democracy (VOD) interviewed one survivor who said he was kidnapped at knife point while walking along a road at night in Sihanoukville and then sold to a scam operation in White Sand Palace 2 (see profile here), after which he was sold to another operator at ‘Kaibo Building 5’. A documentary by Al Jazeera released in July 2022 also includes testimony from a person who claims that he was held at ‘Kaibo 5’ building. Taiwan media reported in August 2022 the story of one woman who was trafficked by brokers in Taiwan, and ended up in ‘Building 13, Kaibo Park, Chinatown’ (中国城凯博园区13栋). After she entered the park, she was not allowed to leave. She claimed that the company holding her had 50 employees, both from mainland China and Taiwan. She was released within three days after appealing for help and paying a fee of US$5,000.
Beijing Youth Daily (北京青年报), the newspaper of Beijing’s Communist Youth League, reported on the situation at Chinatown in April 2022, stating that, unlike in normal residential compounds, here the security guards’ job is to ‘strictly prevent the employees of the online investment company from fleeing without permission’. The newspaper also told the story of an individual who was sold to White Sand and then on to Kaibo, where each floor had a ‘small black room’ (小黑屋) where electric batons, ropes, and handcuffs were stored, and uncooperative people were confined. The article includes the testimony of a 17-year-old woman who answered a job ad promising high salary and good working conditions but ended up in Kaibo ‘Building 17’, and after a month paid US$6,000 to be released. The Beijing Youth Daily article was subsequently removed from the Internet around August 2022, but at the time of writing in October 2022 it still remains available on some websites.
In June 2022, a Chinese national leading a rescue team attempted to rescue 11 Chinese men from seven compounds in Sihanoukville, including Kaibo. All these attempts failed, and people at two locations later reported they faced repercussions from the companies that held them. According to reporting by VOD, two of the people claimed they were kidnapped in Sihanoukville and three said they had responded to job ads for construction work, restaurant work, and customer-service. A 22-year-old man said he had been sold between multiple buildings in the Kaibo complex, before later ending up at the Victory Paradise casino complex. While at Kaibo, the man contacted the Facebook page of the governor of Preah Sihanouk province and was given the contact of the provincial immigration police. When police arrived at the compound, the individual claims that the property manager told him to withdraw the complaint, or he would be ‘beaten and sold again’. The man was later forced to record a video saying he did not want to leave and retracted his complaint.
Although it was mostly Chinese nationals that worked in the Kaibo complex initially, people of other nationalities have been rescued from the area after appealing for help. Online gambling and scam operators originally focused on targeting Chinese people inside China, but later branched out to Chinese speakers in other countries, and eventually began to target non-Chinese, including people in Thailand, Vietnam, and beyond. This requires workers who can speak additional languages. Scams targeting Thai nationals have been found to operate from inside the Kaibo compound. In February 2022, after high-ranking Thai police officials travelled to Cambodia to deliver arrest warrants, Cambodian police raided the ‘Chinatown GM Office’ and detained 13 individuals accused of defrauding people in Thailand. Chinatown GM Office is marked on Google Maps as being inside the Kaibo Park. A few days later, the Cambodian police and military police rescued 32 Thai nationals from the Chinatown area.
In April 2022, Malaysian lawmakers told the press that more than 300 Malaysian citizens may be trapped in online scam centres in Cambodia. Malaysia’s Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants, which supports the work of the Malaysian Government’s Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons, has been working with Interpol and Aseanapol to secure the release of these people, and several rescue operations have taken place since. One person who was rescued reported that he originally travelled to Cambodia answering a job ad for customer service and translation, but on arriving in Sihanoukville found the work was in fact an online scam. He contacted the police and sent them the location of the compound, but his chat was reported to the bosses of the scam operation, who told him they had to pay US$5,000 in order to stop the police from intervening. After this, he was sold to another company for US$11,000. He was eventually transferred to the Kaibo complex to work on an online gambling platform and was not allowed to leave the compound.
In yet another story from mid- 2022, VOD reported on the case of a 23-year-old Vietnamese man who went to Cambodia for a ‘computer-based job’ paying a salary double the norm in his home of Ho Chi Minh City. He was in fact smuggled to Cambodia to work for a scam operator in the Kaibo complex. Regular work hours were 12 hours a day, but this often increased to 17–18 hours if targets were not met. Failure to hit these targets resulted in punishment, and this man claimed that after he was locked up and starved for four days, he resolved to leave. When he attempted to leave, his captors demanded a US$6,000 ransom, with the gang threatening to sell him to operators in Thailand if he did not find the money. After contacting his family in secret, they began to raise funds to pay the amount and he eventually got out with support from a local charity group.
More generally, the wider Chinatown area became associated with frequent reports of serious, and often violent, crime. A review of crime reports by VOD in early 2022 found cases of abandoned bodies, homicides, assaults, firearms, extortion, and detention in the Chinatown area. In January 2022, two bodies were found in shallow graves on the land adjacent to the Kaibo complex. In March, a security guard was found hanging in one of the Kaibo buildings. When asked by VOD about this case, local police had limited information. A local officer told the reporter that the area was hard to police: ‘These places don’t allow us to go in.’ When asked how many suicides and deaths had occurred at the compounds he said: ‘I forget it because there are so many, and I don’t know which is which. Some cases we know, while others we don’t know about.’
After many months of denying that illegal confinement was happening in Cambodian scam compounds, a nationwide crackdown on ‘illegal’ gambling commenced in August 2022. This resulted in raids of various gambling locations, including small local gambling rooms and a handful of major compounds that were known to be running illegal online gambling and/or scam operations. Soon after, official statements on the online compounds shifted drastically, and officials began to admit that human trafficking and detention were happening, and that as many as 100,000 people may be involved in ‘illegal gambling’ (officials still appear reluctant to acknowledge that many operations are in fact conducting online fraud). In Sihanoukville, 10 compounds were raided, while others were tipped off that raids were coming, or simply told to stop operating. An exodus of workers from Sihanoukville occurred, with reports that some people moved to compounds in other parts of the country.
Despite the compound being widely known as a centre of illegal activity, Kaibo was allowed to operate undisturbed by police for several years. However, in September 2022, with a crackdown on compounds in the city under way, Kaibo and the neighbouring Jinshui compound largely cleared out within 24 hours. The authors visited the area on 17 September and found it to be unusually quiet. The next day workers could be seen outside with bags waiting for buses to pick them up. Some of these buses went to other compounds in the city, but several were observed leaving Sihanoukville. Cambodia News Today (今日柬闻) estimated 800 people left soon after the tip off.
The following day, Cambodia News Today gained access to the compound and saw what it described as an ‘abandoned town’, with few workers left inside, shops and restaurants locked, and trucks leaving loaded with furniture. The reporter observed Cambodian workers cutting down the barbed wire surrounding the compound, and a source told the paper that the provincial government has issued instructions that all compounds are required to open their gates, remove barbed wire, take bars down from window, and knock down walls in some cases. A raid never actually went ahead at Kaibo, and it remains to be seen if any criminal action will be taken against the owners of the compound and the companies that were operating there.
In late September, in a report following up on the raids in Sihanoukville, VOD reporters visited several compounds, including Kaibo. They found Kaibo ‘mostly emptied’, but spoke to a security guard there who said that in the past he had worked to prevent escapes. According to the man: ‘Some people jumped from the building and ran to escape. … They jumped but we recaptured them and handed them to their bosses, and we don’t know what happened to them after that. The boss handled them.’ In late October, VOD reported that some workers from compounds in Cambodia were being moved across borders to neighbouring countries in order to escape the crackdown ongoing in Cambodia. They spoke to one person from Taiwan who was working for a fraud operator at Kaibo, but after the zone cleared out he was moved with other workers overland to the notorious Golden Triangle area of northern Laos. After paying a ransom, and with assistance from a Taiwanese politician, he was able to leave the compound in Laos.
Pictures from inside Kaibo the day after the exodus, 19 September. Source: 今日柬闻.
Reporting on the situation at Chinatown in April 2022, a now deleted article in the Beijing Youth Daily quoted an ‘insider’ who said the Kaibo and Jinshui projects are both developed by a single person: Dong Lecheng (董勒成), the founder of Yunnan Jingcheng Group (云南景成集团有限公司). In the 2000s, Dong Lecheng was found guilty of involvement in illegal gambling and has been implicated in numerous criminal cases since then. There are several links between Dong Lecheng and the Kaibo operators, but it is challenging to confirm who the true owner of the development area is, and Dong has denied any link to criminal activity in the area. Dong’s ties to the Jinshui compound are much better documented, and his background is discussed at length in that profile (see here).
Although it is unclear exactly which company owns the land that the Kaibo development is situated on, business registration documents, company publicity, and media investigations reveal that several actors are connected to the Kaibo compound. This includes Cambodian Senator Kok An, his late son-in-law Rithy Samnang, and two Chinese-born men: Xu Aimin (徐爱民), who is reported to be a wanted fugitive in China, and Chen Al Len (born Chen Fuzhou, characters unknown). Another Chinese-born businessman, Su Zhongjian (characters unknown), was linked to Kaibo-connected companies, but resigned from his director positions in 2021.
Rithy Samnang, an okhna who died of a chronic illness in Singapore in May 2022, appears in Cambodia’s business registry linked to over 30 companies in a range of sectors, but his personal website highlights five of which he was the founder—payment app Pi Pay, Phnom Penh City Football Club, KB Hotel, and investment firms RSX Investment and KBX Investment.
Three of these five companies—KB Hotel, RSX Investment, and KBX Investment—have documented ties to the Kaibo compound (and the KB in their name stands for Kaibo). All are recorded in Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce company database. According to these documents, as of October 2022:
Although Senator Kok An does not appear on the records of any of these companies, he is often pictured at events connected to these projects. For example, in the KB Central ground-breaking ceremony discussed below, he sat in the front seat with Rithy Samnang in the background, despite the fact that Samnang was chair of the company at the time. Rithy Samnang’s brother, Rithy Raksmei, also appeared at the launch event. Rithy Raksmei is the owner of K99 Group, which is profiled here.
The first of the three companies, KB Hotel (凱博酒店), is situated within the Kaibo complex and comprises both a hotel and casino that were once open to the public. When the authors visited the site in June 2022, the hotel appeared to be closed, and it was not possible to make bookings online.
The second company, KBX Investment (凯博投资有限公司), is a property developer, and several online job recruitment ads indicate that it is the developer of the Kaibo complex. In January 2022, KBX received approval from the Council for Development of Cambodia to move forward with a US$128-million five-star hotel in Phnom Penh (returned to below in the section on contracting).
The third company, RSX Investment (凯博集团柬埔寨西港房地产公司), is linked to a planned but stalled development adjacent to the Kaibo compound. This large plot was set to be developed into another major complex called KB Central (凱博广场). Ground was broken on the project in October 2019, with Senator Kok An and Rithy Samnang leading the ceremony and Xu Aimin also in attendance (see the slideshow below). The US$500-million project is planned to include a 38-story five-star hotel, green spaces, entertainment facilities, and casino. However, when authors visited the area in June 2022 the plot remained vacant with sign boards for KB Central fading in the sun. At the time of writing in September 2022, this project has not moved forward. The map below shows the location of this plot and the neighbouring developments. According to information provided by people rescued from Kaibo, two buildings in the second phase of Jinshui house scam operators and are reportedly known as ‘Kaibo 2’.
Donations to Charitable Causes
The companies and individuals connected to the Kaibo project have donated significant amounts to charity in recent years (see the slideshow below).
Xu Aimin (徐爱民)
Xu Aimin first came into the spotlight in an investigative report by Radio Free Asia (RFA) in 2021. RFA found that Xu Aimin was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail in China in 2013 for his role in masterminding an international gambling operation worth US$1.75 billion. In 2010, Chinese police investigated an online baccarat platform and traced servers to Cambodia. While 27 people were apprehended in China, Xu remained in Cambodia, where he had obtained citizenship in 2005. Despite China issuing an Interpol Red Notice for his arrest and a Hong Kong magistrate issuing an arrest warrant regarding allegations of laundering gambling proceeds through five HSBC accounts, he has not been apprehended in Cambodia, where he has made little attempt to keep a low profile. RFA reported that China’s powerful Ministry of Public Security sent senior officials to Cambodia multiple times in 2012 and 2013 to seek the arrest and deportation of people involved in the gambling operation Xu Aimin was implicated in. This included meeting with Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng, but Xu remains a free man. Xu Aimin has appeared at public events alongside Chinatown developer Dong Lecheng, including the launch of Dong’s JC Airlines and the delivery of new JC Airlines planes.
Chen Al Len (Chen Fuzhou)
Chen Al Len, another Chinese-born individual involved in the Kaibo companies, became a Cambodian citizen in 2018. His Chinese name is Chen Fuzhou, although we were unable to ascertain the characters. According to Cambodia’s business registry, as of October 2022, he was a director at KB Hotel and RSX Investment, as well as several other companies from the Henghe Group (恒合集团), which is linked to a notorious online compound in Pursat (profiled here) and a casino in Svay Rieng.
Su Zhongjian was listed in Cambodia’s business registry as a director at KB Hotel and RSX Investment until he stepped down in March 2021. He is also connected to over 20 other companies in Cambodia, including companies under the Henghe Group. Su became a Cambodian citizen in 2015. He has also invested in two other companies with Rithy Samnang—RS9 Investment Co., Ltd. and Koh Smach Island Resort Developments Co., Ltd.
Companies Contracted for Kaibo-linked Projects
Although there is no suggestion that the company is an investor in Kaibo projects, a provincial Chinese state-owned enterprise has been contracted to build projects for KBX Investment, as well as other companies operating in the Chinatown area. Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding Group (YCIH, 云南省建设投资控股集团有限公司) has a large footprint in the area. It built the Golden Sun Sky Haigang hotel and casino building, which is the large glass building that sits at the centre of the Chinatown area. It is also currently in the process of constructing a new block of buildings directly facing the Jinshui compound (both of which are covered in the Jinshui profile here).
Despite the extensive media coverage of Kaibo’s involvement in online fraud and abuses of Chinese nationals, as well as Xu Aimin’s status as a wanted criminal in China, a subsidiary of YCIH has been contracted to build the new Kaibo Hotel in Phnom Penh (as discussed above, another project of Xu Aimin’s KBX Investment). The YCIH subsidiary China National Nonferrous Metal Industry Fourteenth Metallurgical Construction Co., Ltd. (中国有色金属工业第十四冶金建设公司) started work on the building in early 2022.
Links to Other Compounds, Companies, and Individuals
Rithy Samnang had business links with Myanmar national Aik Paung, who is involved in the Nanhai Casino (see profile here), another building in central Sihanoukville reported to house scam operations.
Kok An and Rithy Samnang are connected to the Crown Group, which is linked to operations in Sihanoukville, Poipet, and Bavet. This includes Crown Hi-Tech Industrial Park (see profile here), where reports have found people held and forced to work in scam operations.
The brother of Rithy Samnang, Rithy Raksmei, is linked to the K99 Group, which owns the K99 Triumph City compound in Sihanoukville (see profile here). He also purchased buildings in Chinatown from Dong Lecheng (see Jinshui profile here).
Chen Al Len and Su Zhongjian are connected to Henghe Group, which reportedly operates a major scam compound in Pursat at the MDS Henghe Thmorda Special Economic Zone (see profile here).
Kaibo sits alongside Jinshui, another notorious scam compound (see profile here). There are rumours that the ultimate developer of the land that Chinatown (including Kaibo and Jinshui) sits on is the same person—Chinese businessman Dong Lecheng—but this remains unproven.
3 November: Huang, Yan. ‘The Big Transfer: Sihanoukville Scammers Scatter.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Following raids of online compounds in Sihanoukville, large-scale transfer of workers occurred, at first within the city, later to other parts of the country. Includes interview with a worker from Kaibo who was told to pack his things and placed on a bus to another compound, before being moved to a hotel with around 100 others the next day.
24 October: Mech, Dara. ‘Scam Workers Relocated From Cambodia to Laos, Myanmar.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Report on workers from Cambodian compounds being moved to neighbouring countries and eventually ending up in fraud operations in Myanmar and northern Laos. Includes story of one Taiwanese man who was taken from Kaibo to the Golden Triangle zone in Laos.
29 September: Mech, Dara. ‘Amid Ongoing Scam Raids, Sihanoukville Residents Recall Insecurity.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
VOD visits compounds in Sihanoukville to assess the situation after several weeks of raids and rescues in the city. Reporters find Kaibo largely empty.
19 September: Huang, Yan 黄岩. ‘独家重磅！西港中国城凯博金水全部对外开放 [Exclusive! Sihanoukville Chinatown Kaibo and Jinshui Are Fully Open to the Public].’ 今日柬闻 [Cambodia News Today]. Link.
Chinese reporter gains access to the Kaibo compound after the worker exodus and observes an ‘abandoned town’.
19 September: Mech, Dara. ‘Eerie Silence Descends on Notorious Sihanoukville Scam Compounds.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Round-up of a series of raids that occurred in Sihanoukville the preceding five days, and the clear out of Kaibo compound.
18 September: Huang, Yan. ‘西港最大园区被查？数百人连夜大转移 [Was the Largest Park in Westport Investigated? Hundreds of People Moved Overnight].’ 今日柬闻 [Cambodia News Today]. Link.
Initial report on the raid tip off and evacuation of the Kaibo compound.
26 August: Nguyen, Sen. ‘Behind a Slave Rescue from a Cambodian Scam Operation.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Report on the successful attempt of a Vietnamese national to escape from Kaibo, after paying a ransom and seeking support from a local charity group and VOD.
23 August: Yunnan Jingcheng Co., Ltd. ‘Yunnan Jingcheng Group Co., Ltd strongly deny charges of “human trafficking, fraud, cyber fraud”.’ Khmer Times. Link.
Yunnan Jingcheng and businessman Dong Lecheng issue strongly worded statement denying claims made by Al Jazeera, Net Ease, and other media outlets that it is involved in ‘human trafficking, fraud, cyber fraud’.
18 August: ‘柬埔寨詐騙｜曾在中國捲入賭博詐騙案 轉投西港成黑金勢力三巨頭 [Cambodian Fraud: Once Involved in Gambling Fraud in China, He Took Refuge in Sihanoukville and Became One of the Top Three Black Gold Tycoons].’ Hong Kong 101. Link.
Profile of three Chinese tycoons with criminal records who took Cambodian citizenship and, because of their close relationships with Cambodian officials and businessmen, have prospered through online crime. Focuses on Xu Aimin, Dong Lecheng, and She Zhijiang.
11 August: 101 East. ‘Forced to Scam: Cambodia’s Cyber Slaves.’ Al Jazeera. Link.
Longform article focusing on the victims highlighted in below documentary. Includes two people sold to Kaibo.
9 August: ‘「是台灣人賣了台灣人」──逃離柬埔寨詐騙園區，人口販運倖存者的自白 [“It Was Taiwanese Who Sold Taiwanese” – Confessions of a Human Trafficking Survivor Who Escaped From Cambodia’s Scam Zone].’ The Reporter. Link.
Taiwan outlet report on interviews with victims trafficked from Taiwan to scam compounds in Cambodia who later escaped. Includes testimony from one person trafficked to Kaibo Building 13.
14 July: 101 East. ‘Forced to Scam: Cambodia’s Cyber Slaves.’ Al Jazeera. Link.
Documentary on some of the main scam compounds located in Sihanoukville and Pursat. Includes testimony from one person who was held at ‘Kaibo 5’ building.
20 June: Mech, Dara and Danielle Keeton-Olsen. ‘“How to Help Them?” Volunteer Stonewalled in Scam Worker Rescues.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
A Chinese national working to rescue people held in scam compounds attempts to rescue 11 men from seven compounds in Sihanoukville, including Kaibo. All attempts prove unsuccessful.
20 April: Keeton-Olsen, Danielle. ‘After Malaysian Rescues from Cambodia, Politician Warns More People Trapped.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Malaysian lawmaker estimates over 300 Malaysian citizens trapped in online scam operations in Cambodia. One rescued national said he was sold to a company operating in the Kaibo complex.
1 April: Li, Yiming 李一鸣. ‘难以逃离的柬埔寨西港“中国城” ：被绑架被倒卖，被威胁“沉尸海底” … [The “China Town” in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, that is Difficult to Escape: Kidnapped, Resold, Threatened to “Sink the Corpse to the Bottom of the Sea” …].’ 北京青年报 [Beijing Youth Daily]. Link.
Newspaper of Beijing’s Communist Youth League reports on the situation in Chinatown, Sihanoukville, documenting the testimony of people held in the Kaibo and Jinshui compounds. [Note: The article was removed from the internet around August 2022, but at the time of writing it remains available on some websites].
18 March: Mech, Dara. ‘Body Found Hanging in Sihanoukville’s Alleged Slave-Compound Area.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Security guard found hanged at ‘Building 23’ of the KB compound, national police tell media the case was a suicide.
11 March: Mech, Dara and Danielle Keeton-Olsen. ‘Crimes in Shadows: Sihanoukville’s Grisly Reports, Pressure on Journalists.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Review of crime reports from past two years include six cases of bodies found in public locations or washed up on the beach, 19 homicides, assaults, and firearms cases, 11 cases of extortion and detention, along with other serious crimes. Includes serious crimes in Chinatown area.
February 18: Mech, Dara, Cindy Liu, and Danielle Keeton-Olsen. ‘Victims Allege Sihanoukville Precincts with Ties to Major Businesses Are Sites of Scams, Torture, Detention.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
Reports on cases forced labour and human trafficking connected to scam compounds in Sihanoukville, including Kaibo.
18 February: Nop Meechukhun. ‘Group of 32 Thai Nationals Rescued by Cambodian Authorities after Reportedly Unlawfully Being Detained in Rooms While Being Smuggled for Work in Cambodia.’ The Pattaya News. Link.
32 Thai nationals rescued from Chinatown by Cambodian military and police, after reportedly being smuggled into the country and held in a compound.
17 February: Gu, Yuebing 顾月冰. ‘逃离柬埔寨“网赌之城” [Escape from Cambodia’s “City of Online Casinos”].’ 南方周末 [Southern Weekly]. Link.
Chinese media reports on the scale of online scams operating from Sihanoukville and the conditions in which people are forced to work. Names several compounds as sites for online scam companies, including ‘Kaibo Chinatown’.
15 February: Jintamas Saksornchai. ‘Thai Police Kept at Arm’s Length in Raids on Multimillion-Dollar Scam Operators.’ Voice of Democracy. Link.
After high-ranking Thai officials travel to Cambodia to deliver 71 arrest warrants, Cambodian police raid three buildings, arresting 21. Includes news of the raid of Chinatown GM Office in Kaibo Park.
13 February: ‘21 Suspects Captured in Crackdown on Scam Operations in Cambodia.’ The Nation. Link.
Thai coverage of raid on Chinatown GM Office (inside Kaibo Park) in which 13 people were arrested. Building serves as accommodation and workplace for scammers who tricked people into playing games for money. Scammers pretended to be linked to Thai companies Central department store and PTT Group. Most victims were Thais, who lost at least 500 million baht in total.
13 February: Wassayos Ngamkham. ‘21 Thais Cuffed in Cambodia on Fraud Charges.’ Bangkok Post. Link.
Thai coverage of raid on Chinatown GM Office (inside Kaibo Park) in which 13 people were arrested. Confirms arrested were Thai nationals working for a gang operated by Chinese nationals.
26 July: ‘Facebook Jobs Scam: Some Released, Others Still Held in Sihanoukville.’ Cambodia News English. Link.
Following media reports on Filipino woman held against her will in Chinatown area, several people released. One of the released told media that others remain inside, including several African women.
26 July: ‘Foreign Women Illegally Detained After Answering Facebook Job Ads.’ Cambodia News English. Link.
English reporting of Philippines national held against her will in Chinatown complex after responding to a Facebook job recruitment ad.
26 July: Soy, Sopheap. ‘ករណីជួញដូរមនុស្ស នៅខេត្តព្រះសីហនុ ទៅរកការងារ បែរជាត្រូវបង្ខាំងមនុស្សទុក បង្អត់បាយ ដកលិខិតឆ្លងដែន និងទូរស័ព្ទ’ [Human Trafficking Case in Sihanoukville to Work, People Were Detained, Deprived of Food, Confiscated Passports and Telephones]. DAP News. Link.
Khmer-language media reports husband of Philippines national reported his wife being held against her will in Chinatown complex after responding to a Facebook job recruitment ad.
23 June: Davies, Jack, Lee Chi Chi, Chan Yun Nam and Sovannarith Keo. ‘Wanted Chinese Kingpin Owns Casino With Cambodian Senator’s Son-in-Law.’ Radio Free Asia. Link.
Investigation unveils criminal past of Xu Aimin, who is wanted for crimes in China yet is a prominent investor in the group of companies behind Kaibo.