SIM card haul seized from 'mule'

SIM card haul seized from 'mule'

Authorities have seized more than 50,000 mobile phone SIM cards which may have been destined for sale to call centre scammers, at a checkpoint in Sa Kaeo.

The cards were smuggled in from Cambodia yesterday, officials say.

Customs officials found a Cambodian worker wheeling a cart with three large travel bags across the border from Poipet. The bags were full of new SIM cards, mostly belonging to the Dtac mobile provider.

A total of 50,345 SIM cards, individually sealed in plastic bags, were seized from the worker at the Ban Klong Leuk checkpoint in Aranyaprathet district. Of the cards, five were registered with the mobile phone network operator True and the rest to Dtac, according to the provincial customs office.

The seizure was conducted by customs officials and a military unit.

The cards were new and ready to be used. The worker, who was not identified, said he was paid 50 baht by someone in Cambodia to take the travel bags across.

The authorities said he failed to produce importation documents for the cards. However, they believed he had no idea about the bags’ contents and later released him.

Officials were verifying the authenticity of the SIM cards. They suspect they were destined for use as part of a call centre scam network, or for people hired to boost the numbers of likes and page views for commercial benefits on social media. The customs office was checking with the mobile phone network operators to see if the seized SIM cards were earmarked for sale domestically or outside of the country.

Meanwhile, police have detained 21 suspects, including three Taiwanese nationals, in a major call centre gang and charged with them fraud and related offences. The suspects were arrested during 24 recent coordinated raids.

One Thai suspect was a gang leader, identified as Apichart Katawisit. He and other Thai suspects were charged with defrauding people. The three Taiwanese suspects were charged with identity theft and overstaying their visas.

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