Law pursues Sia Po, phone hack shock, ailing Sek takes fall

Net idol gambles on future

Net idol and former celebrity boxer Apirak "Sia Po" Arnon blames a falling out with a politician for his latest troubles with the law, after police told him he is facing money laundering charges stemming from an online gambling case.

Apirak 'Sia Po' Arnon

Sia Po, well known as a donor to worthy causes, said he believes a politician who once asked him for 5 million baht and was rebuffed is behind the "order" to charge him with money laundering.

"After that someone tampered with a picture online to make it look as if I was bad-mouthing the monarchy, and took an old clip of me encouraging Thais to gamble and spread it about the net to defame me further," he grumbled last week.

Bang Khen police, who have laid the money laundering charges, earlier last week took him and his wife to meet special prosecutors as they delivered their case file urging further action. The prosecutors have called the pair back on June 22 to hear whether they will take up the police case.

Prayut Petchkun, deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, said prosecutors from the District Court in Don Muang received the initial file last year recommending Sia Po and five others be taken to court for online gambling. They sent it back to the police as they believed money laundering charges should be added, and it was beyond their authority to proceed.

Bang Khen police had now completed their probe and laid the additional charge against Sia Po, his wife, Juthamat Chantee, and friend, Bancha Chuenchudej. Mr Bancha has since fled the law and an arrest warrant would be sought. The other defendants had admitted online gambling and would be dealt with separately.

Sia Po said he was confident his case doesn't qualify as money laundering. "It's true that I gamble across the border, but Thai law doesn't apply there and I don't bring the money back." He claimed the millions of baht he has donated to worthy causes was raised from like-minded friends who enjoy making merit.

Elsewhere, however, Sia Po has admitted bringing back money from the casinos, including the 100 million he rustled up for last year's Ubon Ratchathani flood relief effort donated by casinos across the border.

Sia Po, who travelled to the province to hand out bundles of used 1,000 baht notes from suitcases, said his casino friends wanted to help alleviate Thais' plight.

Perhaps aware that Thais know well where he gets his money, he added: "I don't want people thinking the money I have donated is dirty money. It is better to look at the outcomes. People who are in a tight spot financially get the benefit."

Sia Po also faces trouble in another case involving fellow net idol and co-suspect Makharin Phumsaart, also known as Nay Wat Dao. The pair were freed last September from Bangkok Special Prison, where they had been held for enticing Thais to gamble online, and denied bail.

However, they were later released after prosecutors, who had appealed to police for more evidence, ran out of time to press their case. The status of this case is unclear, though Mr Prayut, deputy spokesman for the OAG, said additional witness questioning was held last year.

Hacker cleans out city man

A city businessman is warning about an elaborate con in which a gang offered him a free stay at a hotel and a phone only to hack into his bank accounts and steal 395,000 baht.

A city businessman fell victim to an elaborate con in which a free stay at a hotel led to the hacking of his bank accounts and theft of 395,000 baht.

Kasidit "Kwang" Visetthanakorn, 31, a health consultant and business coach, has gone to police about the con which also roped in an unsuspecting TV presenter and a Grab driver.

Mr Kasidit said the saga started on May 16 when he and his family returned from a stay at a hotel in Chon Buri. He received a call that night from someone claiming to work for the hotel saying he was the lucky recipient of a promotion in which he would get to stay there again for three nights, this time for free, and a free phone.

As a condition of accepting the prize, he would have to insert his SIM card in the Oppo phone supplied by the hotel for a couple of hours to "activate" the promotion. The caller turned up at Mr Kasidit's place at 7pm and left an hour later.

The gang behind the scam used his SIM card to gain remote access via the phone to his Kasikorn bank account and that of a juristic entity run by his family. He discovered the next day that 395,000 baht had been withdrawn and sent to an account in Phitsanulok.

A check of the IP address found someone logged into his internet banking app from another phone.

The Oppo phone received an SMS message notifying him about the transfer, and an access password from the bank, but Mr Kasidit said the folder which receives messages was deliberately hidden from view so he would not notice. The phone's sound was also turned off to disguise the arrival of the SMS.

Mr Kasidit posted a warning to Facebook about his ordeal, and contacted Hua Mak and Crime Suppression Division police.

Later, the fraudsters returned to demand online an extra 200,000 baht, and hacked into his Facebook to leave a message, claiming to come from him, denying he had fallen victim to a hacker as he wrote earlier, and asserting a member of his family was behind the theft. Mr Kasidit later regained control over his account.

In his post, Mr Kasidit identified the man who delivered the phone as Niwat Luangsirithian, a freelance TV presenter.

Mr Niwat, who has gone to Tao Poon police to protest his innocence, said he was contacted by someone claiming to work for a phone company and asked to deliver the phone. He had earlier registered for freelance work at a job search website, and the "employer" made contact directly via the Line app.

A van picked him up, with the driver claiming to come from the phone company. "While en route I noticed it was actually rented from Grab, though I thought nothing more of it," he told police. The Grab driver, in turn, was told to say he came from the phone company.

Mr Niwat delivered the phone, and made sure Mr Kasidit inserted the SIM card as required, only to discover later he had been dragged unwittingly into a scam.

The TV presenter said he had spoken to Mr Kasidit, who holds no grudges. Mr Kasidit, meanwhile, does not know why he was chosen as the victim and is disappointed with the bank's initial reaction. "They tell me I must wait for legal action first, which means it will be some time before I get my money back." Police are investigating.

Rocker succumbs to stress

Rocker Sek Loso's ex-wife Wiphakorn "Kan" Sukpimai is appealing to the Supreme Court to show mercy after Sek suffered a recent fall at home, which she attributes to stress over an upcoming court ruling which threatens to put him in jail.

Wiphakorn 'Kan' Sukpimai and Sek Loso after his fall.

Kan recounted on social media Sek's fainting and fitting episode last week in which she claimed he came close to death.

She said Sek, while walking into their home, struck a table and then fell out of a chair onto the floor. She said Sek's eyes rolled back and he started to have seizures.

Kan, who has moved back into Sek's place after the couple reconciled, and is helping rebuild his career following the rocker's lengthy bout with bipolar disorder and drug abuse, was present along with several others close to the family.

They managed to get ailing Sek onto the sofa and gave him a herbal inhaler, bathed him with a damp cloth and massaged his feet. Kan said she also called an ambulance, though at Sek's request later cancelled it. She said Sek had agreed to visit the doctor for a checkup instead.

Kan said earlier she was working long hours on the rocker's legal woes which came to a head on May 7 when the Appeal Court upheld a lower court decision to imprison Sek on three counts of drug abuse and resisting arrest following an incident in late December 2017.

Appealing to the court for mercy, she wrote: "We are worried and stressed and don't know how we will cope without him. He feels sorry for his misdeeds, which largely stem from his bipolar disorder, and won't cause trouble any more."

The rocker was found guilty of resisting arrest, threatening police with a gun and drug abuse by the Min Buri court on Oct 25, 2018. He was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison despite claiming he was suffering from bipolar disorder, which was rejected by the court.

The sentence comprised two and half years for those charges, stemming from an incident at his Bangkok home; plus another one year and three months, earlier suspended by the court but later reinstated, for assaulting a close friend of Kan's. He now awaits a final ruling on appeal to the Supreme Court.