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She set up the Somaly Mam Foundation, raised money, appeared on major television programs, and spoke at many international events. After allegations of lying had appeared in The Cambodia Daily in and , Newsweek ran a cover-story in May claiming that Mam had fabricated stories of abuse about herself and others. After the Somaly Mam Foundation undertook its own investigation by Goodwin Procter , a Boston-based law firm, she resigned from her position and the foundation shut down in October Mam was born to a tribal minority family in Mondulkiri Province , Cambodia.
In her memoir, The Road of Lost Innocence , she states that she was born in either or Mam was investigated by a journalist working in Cambodia, and his allegations that key parts of her early life were false was carried by Newsweek in May In her book Mam said she attended school in Cambodia, but did not graduate. According to the Newsweek article, Mam did graduate and found two students and a teacher to support their claims,  but Marie Claire quotes the school director remembering she attended only three years of school.
Mam said that she was abused by her "grandfather" until she was approximately 14 and that she was sold to a brothel and forced into prostitution and that she was also forced to marry a stranger. They divorced in The organization also works with law enforcement to raid the brothels.
In June , Mam co-founded the Somaly Mam Foundation , a nonprofit organization formed in the United States that supported anti-trafficking groups and helped women and girls who had been forced into sexual slavery. Mam resigned from her position and later the foundation shut down in October Scrutiny of Mam's story began with comments she made at the United Nations. Speaking on a United Nations panel to member states, international aid organizations and the media in New York on April 3, Mam stated that eight girls had been killed after her organization AFESIP conducted a high-profile raid on a massage parlor at the Chai Hour II Hotel in Phnom Penh, where 83 women and girls were taken and placed in her refuge center.
Somaly Mam has since admitted that this was "inaccurate" and that the Cambodian army had not killed eight girls. Legros said their daughter was not kidnapped, but had run away with her boyfriend, and that in his view the abduction story was a means of "marketing for the Somaly Mam Foundation". The U. Ambassador at the time, Joseph Mussomeli , wrote in a diplomatic cable in that Mam claimed that Mam's daughter had been "lured by her peers" to Battambang Province and that she was later found in a night club there in the company of three men who were arrested and charged with trafficking.