Police investigate online Furby scam

Furby doll buyers file a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division seeking an investigation into suspected fraud involving purchases of the cute robotic toy worth over four million baht.

  • Published: 7/02/2013 at 01:49 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

About 40 people, led by university student Manaswin Maliwong, 21, complained to the police on Thursday that they were cheated by a person selling Furby dolls online.

They all ordered the doll from Instagram user Ployy Smile, who claimed that she could supply the sought-after doll in large quantities.

After running a background check and being confident that Ployy Smile was a real trader who used to sell Japanese snacks before, Mr Manaswin said he ordered 40 dolls at 2,800 baht each, or 112,000 baht.

He said Ployy Smile had also posted a picture of herself with a famous movie star and claimed that she will get the dolls from this person.

Thai celebrities show off their Furbies. (Photo from Facebook.com)

Mr Manaswin said he transferred the money to the account number given by Ployy Smile on Feb 2, with delivery set for Feb 6. But Ployy Smile postponed the delivery, and he began to suspect he had been cheated.

He said a check on social networks showed there were other people in the same situation, so they had gathered together to bring charges against Ployy Smile.

He had also learned that Ployy Smile is a 16-year-old girl who had earlier been questioned at Huay Khwang police station, because other buyers also reported their suspicions to police. He said he found out that some buyers had placed large orders and lost more than one million baht.

The police officer at Huay Khwang told Mr Manaswin that the case would be transferred to the Crime Suppression Division.

The police said an initial investigation revealed that Ployy Smile is a 16-year-old girl but formal questioning must be done later in the presence of a juvenile official. Financial evidence showed that several million baht had been transferred by Ployy Smile to Chonnikant Taichilasasoontorn, who might be involved in the case.

Ployy Smile told reporters that she met Ms Chonnikant three weeks ago through a website, and later she was asked to help post the Furby ad through Instagram for 2,990 baht. Ms Chonnikant had explained that she did not want to post the ad herself to avoid a tax problem.

In just a short period there were 44 buyers wanting to buy dolls worth a total of 4.2 million baht. The money had  been transferred to two accounts, Chonnikant Taichilasasoontorn at a bank in Samut Sakhon and Kanchana Jabang at a bank in Ubon Ratchathani.

The girl said she had no knowledge about details of the deliveries but was informed by Ms Chonnikant that the products were being delivered to buyers. Later she was told that there was some tyre problem, so the dolls could not be delivered on time.

Ployy Smile said she was pressured by buyers to deliver the dolls or refund the money so she told Ms Chonnikant to act immediately. But later she could not reach Ms Chonnikant. When she knew about the police report, she rushed to the police station to provide information, the 16-year-old said.

The Furby is a very popular, cute, furry toy resembling a squat hamster with owl-like eyes that can sing and dance and interact with owners. They even have their own language.

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