DES cracks down on peddling of bogus investments

DES cracks down on peddling of bogus investments

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry says it will send a list of websites and social media pages suspected of luring people into bogus asset investments to the Bank of Thailand and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to check the licences, as part of a crackdown on scammers.

"If websites or social media channels are found to have violated laws, we will seek a court order to shut them immediately by resorting to power in the Computer-related Crime Act," said DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn.

"The approach can help stop damage in the early stages before a large number of people are lured, preventing huge losses."

He was speaking after chairing a recent meeting of an anti-online crime committee, which includes representatives of the police's Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, the central bank and the SEC.

The meeting comes after the company Forex-3D was alleged to have cheated thousands of victims out of 2 billion baht through a foreign exchange Ponzi scheme.

Currency exchange businesses require a licence from the central bank, Mr Chaiwut said.

The central bank has never issued a licence for any exchange which runs its business only through online platforms or social networks.

"Anyone running a business like this is violating the law," Mr Chaiwut said.

Those who persuade others to pursue forex trading by promising high level of returns could run afoul of the emergency decree regarding fraudulent borrowing.

Mr Chaiwut said the SEC representative on the anti-online crime committee insisted it has the authority to oversee only asset investments. However, authorities can use the emergency decree to deal with cases where operators promise unusually high returns from investment.

He said there have been instances where people lost money from their bank accounts after clicking a link sent by scammers to users' mobile phones.

In this case, offenders could monitor users' phone screens remotely and see one-time passwords, which can be used to authorise money transactions through bank apps.

The central bank has told all banks to upgrade their mobile banking systems to block money transfers when any users are found to have been hacked through their mobile phones.

Mr Chaiwut said any agencies, including the central bank and SEC, which detect illegal behaviour can send evidence to the DES Ministry so that it can quickly block the suspected online channels to prevent substantial damage to the public.

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