The National Police have concluded their investigation of a Chinese woman who had reportedly been kidnapped and held for a ransom of more than $1 million in Cambodia, confirming that no such crime had taken place.

During a July 26 press conference, the police quoted Ky Vannara, a member of the foreigner assistance team, as reporting that on July 19, officers received information from the Facebook account of interior minister Sar Kheng that a Chinese woman identified as Yi, who resided in Japan, had asked the police to rescue her 19-year-old daughter from confinement. Her daughter, identified only as Lan, is reportedly a university student in the Japanese capital Tokyo.

Yi claimed that she had last been in contact with her daughter on July 15, but that on July 17 an unidentified man shared images and video of Lan via the LINE messaging app, claiming that they were holding the girl hostage. Their initial demand was for a ransom of $1.4 million, but was then reduced to $210,000 following negotiations.

“Having received the complaint from the mother, the National Police and the General Department of Immigration searched for the alleged victim, only to discover that she was staying alone in a hotel and had not been kidnapped as reported,” said Vannara.

Vannara noted that Lan and the suspects had actually never met and were in contact with each other via YiChat, an unregulated messaging app.

He quoted the girl as telling the police during questioning that an unidentified man had called her on July 5 and claimed to be a Chinese police officer who was investigating her for fraud relating to a money laundering case, and that he believed scammed money had been placed in her bank account. Lan was warned that she must cooperate and keep the case confidential, or she and her entire family would get into trouble.

The man and his accomplices then ordered her to transfer all of the money in her bank account to them, in order for them to check the accuracy of their records. Lan reportedly transferred around $5,000 to them, and they immediately demanded that she pay them an additional $350,000 to end the problem and drop the alleged case.

When she could not find the amount they demanded, police said, the suspects instructed her to travel to Cambodia, where she was told to stage a fake kidnapping video and send it to them. The suspects then sent the images and video to her mother, along with a ransom demand. The communications were carried out via YiChat, and the messages were deleted each day.

Once they had located the alleged victim, the police contacted her family in Japan, who flew to Cambodia. After the police determined that no kidnapping had taken place, the young woman was reunited with her family and returned to Japan on the evening of July 26.