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$30,000 Pedophilia NGO scam: if allegations are true, who’s watching the Watchers?

Written By: herbrunbridge - May• 03•10

Concomitant to the meritorious work being done by international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in rooting out pedophilia, allegations are surfacing that innocent Western male travelers in Cambodia are being unfairly accused of having sex with minors, with uncomfortable and dangerous legal consequences.  If the allegations are true, this may prove to be an elaborate extortion scheme that no victim is willing to expose. At the heart of the scam, it is claimed, is the manner in which NGOs gather evidence to begin the prosecution process against foreigners, namely the use of paid informants, including  motorcycle taxi drivers.  In other instances, it is alleged, teams of survey-takers, purporting to be from tourism organizations, collect data on individuals, including the names of their hotels, prompting later visits by police.  One NGO openly states their investigators ” go undercover as drivers, English teachers or even craftsmen.”

While the investigative methods of NGOs remain somewhat of an in-house secret, it is alleged that informants are paid commissions for each “lead,” and are encouraged to report each day to an NGO contact, who will log the data for subsequent payments of commissions. Informants would therefore accrue the most profit by providing increasing  numbers of names, relatively easy to obtain from hotel personnel at the original point of pick-up, in the case of a taxi driver, or survey location, if done outside a hotel. 

The purported extortion scam is alleged to work like this: After a target individual has been initially identified, he is then followed and photographed on visits to establishments offering sexual companionship with those above the age of consent. 

The taxi driver or survey-taker next provides the name and photograph to the NGO. The NGO then gives the name of the individual to the police, who visit the innocent alleged “perpetrator” and demand a financial payment in order to avoid arrest for allegedly having sex with an underage female. This amount has generally been reported to be $30,000 USD. In this fashion, the taxi driver and police official both make a profit from the extortion racket, while the NGO adds yet another spurious statistic to its list of Western males having sex with underage girls. NGOs use such statistics to solicit additional funding from Western sources. Everybody in this story accrues a financial gain except the victim. If he doesn’t pay up, he is threatened with arrest as a pedophile as well as notification to his own government for potential prosecution in his own country. 

An additional issue arises when the individual seeking sexual favors does so with an individual of legal age, but who appears —to the eyes of Western police officials —to be younger, based on a photograph of the alleged underage female. Local police can use this additional “evidence” to their advantage by threatening to turn the male victim over to his own Embassy, for prosecution in his own country. In this manner, names and photographs can easily be used by local police to “shake down” the innocent victim for a bribe, even though the police know that no crime against children has been committed.  If unwilling to pay the bribe, the victim could, in theory, be reported to the government of his nation of origin as a suspected or known pedophile, with accompanying photographic evidence to “prove” the suspicion, and the imprimatur of an international NGO to confirm the suspicion. 

Today, an individual unjustly accused of sexually molesting children is all too often presumed guilty until proven innocent, and the costs associated with defending himself legally are significant.  Victims of nefarious “stings” are rarely willing to call attention to themselves by complaining to the local or international Press.  

Critics of the use of paid informants to provide unreliable data on alleged perpetrators of crimes often refer to the excesses of the days in the 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy rode roughshod over civil liberties to root out alleged Communists in the United States.  In that era, thousands of innocent victims were harassed and persecuted.  With today’s reliance on databases, dishonest information and shaky allegations may stay in one’s international police files in perpetuity. 

The overwhelming majority of people in all nations condemn sexual abuse of children, and NGOs have certainly done their part in bringing attention to the problem.  In bringing perpetrators to justice, though, it’s important to ensure the rights of the innocent.  If justice is the goal, the rights of all must be respected.  Reliance on word of paid informants is always suspect, overburdens prosecutorial systems, and greases the chain of bribery.  Is there any substance to these allegations of NGO and Police dishonesty?  If so, perhaps it’s time to take a better look at how NGOs go about collecting and storing information on individuals loosely suspected of abusing children,  and sharing the information with local, national, and international police agencies.  In moving forward to help eradicate the crime of sexual abuse of children, we must ensure that the innocent aren’t being thrown in with the guilty. 

Tell us your story 

Have you been unjustly accused of pedophilia by an NGO?  We’d like to hear your story. If you’ve been harassed or persecuted by a Non-Governmental Organization in the course of seeking sexual relations with a non-minor, we’d like to know about it.  Please provide the name of the NGO, places, dates, and approximate times if possible, and tell us what happened.  If you’d be willing to go public with your name, please tell us that as well.

Update: see our post on a legal follow-on to this subject.

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  1. […] military officials and one or more non-governmental organization (NGO). The matter, described in a WoWasis story first introduced several years ago, involves a scam in which innocent western men are falsely […]

  2. Jim says:

    NGO guys live like a king in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, generously eating out at exclusive restaurants every day and renting a condo at a monthly price over three times the annual GDP per capita of the country. They are also patrons of prostitutes themselves, whether they work at a pedophilia-fighting institution or not.

  3. The New York Times and Newsweek are now reporting on this issue. As reported in the May 29, 2014 issue of the Times, world renowned activist Somaly Mam, founder of the organization that bears her name, “has resigned from the foundation she started after being confronted with allegations that she and others connected to her group fabricated stories about their experiences as young victims of the sex trade.” The tale is a sordid one, and can be read at

  4. False Fugitive says:

    I have same problem sri lanka. escaped to uk on advice of embassy who now won’t answer phone unless I use another number each time.
    I have crucial documents and audio recordings from phone also that show my innocence, the way things are being stitched up and the corruption at all levels. they are trying to extradite me on suss. and i have had a request for $10000 to help …
    An extradition lawyer says little problem due sri lankan torture reputation. I am broke and family not helping, to say the least. if anyone has advice, or can offer psychological support, point me in the right direction to get a legal aid lawyer – and I of course can offer info and advice to those in similar positions and will use this experience to do just that. maim problem is when the authorities and lawyers over there are so
    harassing and embassy and etc over here so unsupportive is that one ends up in denial and too confused to make the right moves. a good talk with a lawyer maybe the answer….
    – The fugitive!

  5. Hostage says:

    Peter, good comments. APLE promise in their mission, “justice for victims”. How can victims get justice if they dont go to court? These are adults, free of NGO protection and at appeal, the aple lawyer told the judge that they were “too busy to attend”, too busy to seek justice?
    Matt claims that he has never had what is defined by laws worldwide as a “trial”, he does not recognise the authority of the court at a procedure where he is the only person to attend.
    After 2 years 6 months, he is now illegally detained, after the court asked for a 15,000usd payment, he also considers himself a hostage, sponsored by the uk government.
    The aple website is a cute con, sucking finds from gullable donors who dont ask “what are you doing?” Even the national inteligence agency in london rate aple as an “unreliable source”.

  6. Hostage says:

    The whole justice system here is a scam. Go to the first court to see, 30 khmers in a minibus, 4 court rooms. Each pays on average 2,000usd to the court. In 250 working days thats 10m usd per year.
    The foreign sex scam is more convenient because who would question the conviction of a so called paedophile? It is perfect. How many sex ngos in cambodia? How many convictions?
    The maths dont add up. The Uk embassy 4 year objective is to reduce the attraction of cambodia to british sex tourists. A good strategy but how can they also protect the rights of their citizens and support a fair trial, which is a uk foreign office objective?
    Why does the uk embassy make donations to aple? See aple web site. Why did the embassy fund an aple report “a study on the cambodian legal system with a focus on prosecuting foreign child sex tourists – sponsored by the british embassy pp”?
    Matthew harland wants a fair trial and asks you to attend. The public gallery is free of charge and anonymous.
    His appeal was 40 minutes, the single court tried 6 cases that morning. His verdict 3m and 3s, in khmer. No translater and no aple or defence lawyer. He has still never met any witness in court. Eleven cases were heard at the appeal court that morning in 2 hours. But it was a friday and we all like to go home early in our Audi Q8.
    Matthew would like to talk to others.

  7. Peter says:

    APLE condemn whoever needs to maintain its funding of foreign states.
    In June 2010 they got a judge condemned to 15 years in prison even Filipino citizen “absent” without any official confirmation of the identity of this “Filipino” because there is no documentation. APLE maintains on its website publication of this conviction as a trophy.
    In December 2010, a judge APLE condemn got a photocopy of a Spanish citizen “absent”. The Spanish was not investigated or arrested while he was in Cambodia; all APLE actions were after the Spanish ended their stay in Cambodia, the Spanish has no knowledge of which he is accused, and who accused him.
    In Cambodia APLE only need to get charge and convict a dead man, but if you continue on this way, it will come…

  8. Hostage says:

    I know someone who will speak, matthew harland is currently in prey sar
    Prison.. The ngo involved is APLE who held one of the “victims” in one of their shelters. He was also approached before his arrest by an APLE undercover agent who tried to entrap him.
    He has never met his accusers at court, who are now adults. At appeal, APLE lawyer said the victims were “too busy” to attend. He was first asked to pay $15000 but british authorities were not interested in helping to report this, or to help seek a fair trial.
    How can this be justice? Mh is seeking only a fair trial but is told he must pay.
    You can contact him vis the british embassy in phnom penh, preferably sealed mail or via prisoners abroad in the uk.
    Mh was working in cambodia and living with his partner. There is no evidence to support a conviction.

  9. jimmy says:

    Good to see it in writing but the pedo thing has been
    going on for years.
    The NGO’s must get someone or their budgets will be cut,
    they are just as corrupt the police and the government.

    But keep up the good work exposing the Truth…Cheers

  10. Titanium says:

    i hate scams wheter it is offline scam or online scams, there are lots of it these days *”,

  11. Humidity Temperature : says:

    there are always scam everywhere so we should always be very careful when dealing with others”‘;

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