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TOPIC: online fraud

Economy

How Cambodia Became The Hub Of Asia's Online Fraud Racket

When China cracked down on cyber crime, many involved in the industry moved to Cambodia. The Southeast Asian country has since become synonymous with online scams and forced labor. But the Cambodian government isn't just turning a blind eye — it is actively benefiting.

Cambodia has been making headlines this year for all the wrong reasons: a rising Asian leader in "internet fraud," "forced labor" and "human trafficking."

But why, in particular, has Cambodia become a hub for online scams? How did international cyber fraud become so widespread in this Southeast Asian nation of 16.7. million? The answers begin with an unlikely source — land.

There is a joke familiar to many Cambodians: only generals with two stars or more can own land in Sihanoukville, a popular beachside destination in the south of the country. That land eventually changes hands and ends up belonging to Chinese investors, who turn it into hotels, casinos and, eventually now: cyber fraud activities.

Cambodia has private ownership of land, but its domestic politics has been turbulent for decades, with property rights still unclear. Large amounts of private land is still concentrated in the hands of the political elite through violent means, such as the forced conversion of private land into state land or the eviction of residents for commercial development.

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