Amlo freezes 10 accounts linked to phone scam gangs

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) has seized 10 bank accounts of people suspected of being hired by call centre gangs to receive money wired by gang victims.

The office has asked the holders of those accounts to explain their actions, or face criminal action for laundering money.

Amlo secretary-general Seehanart Prayoonrat said yesterday that Amlo had looked into suspicious bank account transactions after receiving complaints from four people who had fallen victim to call centre gangs.

The office found suspicious transactions involving 10 bank accounts, which it believes were opened to receive money transfers from gang victims.

Amlo seized the accounts to prevent future damage to the public, Pol Col Seehanart said. They comprise Bangkok Bank, Thai Military Bank, and Government Savings Bank accounts.

Pol Col Seehanart said if the investigation found the account holders were linked to any call centre gangs they would face legal action for laundering money.

"If owners of those accounts claim they are unaware that members of a call centre gang unlawfully used their accounts, they must meet Amlo officials urgently to clarify the facts, or they will face legal action," he said.

Amlo would also invite managers of the bank branches where the 10 accounts were opened to explain why they had not checked suspicious transactions or reported any irregularities.

Any bank branch that fails to report irregularities in financial transactions as stated in the anti-money laundering law can be fined 500,000 baht per account or 5,000 baht in fines per day, he said.

Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have sent back 11 out of 13 Thais involved in a call centre scam.

Another two suspects have to serve another 22 months in jail before they can be sent back to Thailand.

In 2010, victims of the gang filed complaints with the Economic Crime Supersession Division that they were lured into wiring money to the gang, which operated a call centre in China.

Police went to China to help track the gang down. Chinese police arrested the 13 Thais on April 8, 2010.

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Writer: King-oua Laohong
Position: Reporter