The Welfare of Persons with Disabilities department under the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation asked that authorities take legal action against certain individuals who have been posing as ministry officials to raise funds in factories for their own personal gain.

Department director Yeap Malino informed several factories and enterprises on March 29 that a gang led by Hun Sarak had masqueraded as ministry officials.

Marlino said the gang had used ministerial announcements on protecting the disabled to solicit money from businesses and even defraud some disabled people – with the promise of government benefits.

He added that the fraudsters had even gone so far as to fraudulently stamp and sign documents which claimed they were senior officials of his department in order to raise funds via sponsorship of fictitious carts and even a non-existent volleyball tournament.

“The department unequivocally rejects the activities of these criminals and requests that the relevant authorities take immediate action to prosecute them,” he said.

In order to protect them from being deceived, Malino informed factories to check the credentials of anyone claiming to represent his department. Any genuine official could produce an official ID card and a letter of mission – and all inspections carried out by the department are free of charge, he added.

The department also clarified the penalties provided for under the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Under Article 53, intentional exploitation by violating the ignorance or weakness of a person due to their disability status by forcing the individual to commit an act that may cause serious harm is punishable by imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of two to six million riel ($500 to $1,500).

Article 56 states that the same penalties apply should someone illegally perform duties which they are not eligible to perform.

Sem Sovantha, director of the Angkor Association for the Disabled, supported the department’s call and asked the authorities to bring the fraudster to justice. Disability-related fraud affects the rights and interests of people with disabilities, while the government strives to the rights of the disabled.

“It is important to stop cheating those who receive disability payments. To obtain these payments, one must register with the commune hall to get the identity card that allows you to obtain equitable benefits. During the pandemic, the poorest families with disabled members received payment of up to 400,000 riel,” he said.