Crypto creeps strike again

Crypto creeps strike again

'All investments carry some degree of risk." This is a classic statement that investors should bear in mind before engaging in any financial investment.

In reality, however, many push it aside when hunger for bigger returns gets the best of them. And, chances are that they end up having to kiss their money goodbye for good.

This scenario is apparent in at least three fraud cases involving Forex and cryptocurrency trading scams that made headlines in the media last month and become a big lesson for new investors.

The shocking story of the popular actress Pinky, or Sawika Chaidet, thrown in jail alongside 18 other people including her own mother and brother is only a sequence in the notorious Forex-3D Ponzi scheme that was exposed three years ago.

All of them were defendants indicted in the Criminal Court on charges of operating the scam that cheated almost 10,000 victims out of around 2.5 billion baht.

Forex-3D was a company founded in 2015 by Apiruk Kothi, then 21, who lured people to invest in fake currency trading with false promises of 60-80% returns.

He fled the country after the first victim came out to seek help in late 2019 and was arrested early last year on charges of fraud, computer law violation and money laundering.

His assets worth over a billion baht -- including luxury cars, land ownership documents, gold, luxury watches and brand-name bags -- also were seized. He is now imprisoned pending an investigation.

Less than a week after Pinky's case, around 30 victims filed charges against popular YouTuber Natthamon "Nutty" Khongchak, 30, for allegedly bilking about 6,000 people out of 2 billion baht in another Forex trading scam.

Nutty claimed to be a successful trader and encouraged her followers to deposit money into her account, giving them a promise of 25-35% in returns for three-to-12-month contracts. An arrest warrant was issued but she's nowhere to be found.

Many believe she has fled to a neighbouring country. Many victims reportedly chipped in to offer a reward of 5 million baht to anyone who could locate her whereabouts.

Only a day after that, a cryptocurrency scam by P Miner company in Chiang Mai was revealed by a group of victims who said they were among the 300 VIPs who were lured to invest 1 million baht each in the company's crypto trading and mining, with a promise of 10-15% in dividends every month.

Police seized assets worth over 100 million baht belonging to the company's founder, Kittikorn Inta, who is wanted for cheating at least 1,300 people, causing them to lose 1.7 million baht. Nobody knows his whereabouts either.

Honestly, I've read about the three scams with a heavy heart. It's hard to believe that some people could be easily tricked into parting with large sums of money in the belief that they would be rewarded with profits that were too high to be true.

Late last month, the Central Investigation Bureau posted a message pointing out the tricks that are often used in a stock trading scams on Facebook. It said that most fraudsters would usually create trustworthy images of themselves on online platforms, show off their wealth or the fortunes of their investors, and come up with content that make them look like experts in the field.

Then, they would invite investments with a guarantee of unrealistically large returns that would be paid in a short period of time in order to attract more investments before they would, eventually, run off with their ill-gotten gains.

Surprisingly, this pattern of tricks matches with that of the three cases above. The bureau offered advice in avoiding falling for investment scams.

It suggested that all investors study the investment information carefully and only open a trading portfolio under their own name with the companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also warned us not to put our money into someone else's account and have them trade on our behalf.

I don't know how long people will keep these cautions in mind. As a matter of fact, these get-rich-quick scams are nothing new in our country but a lot of people still fall for them.

Every time such cases are exposed in the media, we rarely hear words of sympathy for the victims. Instead, people choose to criticise them, saying it was their own greed and stupidity that caused them to lose their money.

I think it's not easy to prevent people from being cheated as long as they don't learn to manage their own greed first. Greed is a common part of our nature and it can be a driving force for progress in our lives in the same way it can ruin us.

For me, all investment scams are like a game of greed where only the greedier and more clever boss will win it all. I hope that all the bosses of this game are dragged to jail and stay there long so that they won't have the chance to play it with anyone again.

Patcharawalai Sanyanusin is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Patcharawalai Sanyanusin

Writer

Patcharawalai Sanyanusin is a writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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