Police foil B15m credit fraud caper

Police foil B15m credit fraud caper

A gang that allegedly cheated and almost snatched 15 million baht from a housing estate administrator in Chon Buri in an offline credit card reader plot has been nabbed by police.

Pretending to be house buyers, three gang members suggested that Amnat Phunkham, who runs the Perfect City housing project in Phanat Nikhom district, ask Thanachart Bank to install the device and use the offline system to conduct their house purchases, but bank staff, smelling a rat, contacted police which led to their arrest last week, Crime Suppression Division's deputy chief Sithatchakhet Khruwattanaset said yesterday.

The suspects, identified as Sirirat Premsirirat, 42, Aphichit Atsanathip, 47, and Laksami Phuttachamnankit, 66, made an offer to buy all the houses on the estate worth a total of 150 million claiming they represented state authorities that were buying the houses for a royal project.

However, they wanted to pay only through through credit card via an offline card reader. They also requested 15 million baht as a commission fee for the deal.

If the deal had been struck, the bank would have spent at least one day handling the payment which would have identified something was wrong, but too late, Pol Col Sithatchakhet said.

Unlike the online card reader which can immediately check the credit line of card users, using financial information kept in a bank's server before the granting of credit, the offline system is more laborious involving phone calls between a bank and the place handling the transaction to make a similar check, an employee at Thanachart Bank's anti-fraud unit said.

An offline card reader will only be used if the online system is malfunctioning.

However, this was not the case in the fake house purchase in Chon Buri. According to police, the gang promised it would first pay 30 million baht to Mr Amnat but asked him to give what they called an "operation fee" of 15 million baht.

Thanachart Bank informed police, after it became suspicious. A check found their main aim was to swindle the 15 million baht from Mr Amnat, Pol Col Sithatchakhet said.

Police nabbed the suspects on Sept 9 when they went to the estate sale's office to complete the deal. A probe into their financial status found they had little money -- in one case just 10 baht -- in their bank accounts.

Ms Sirirat had 15 arrest warrants out for her, mainly for financial fraud, Pol Col Sithatchakhet said.

Do you like the content of this article?