DSI has arrested two Thais and eight foreigners for their roles in an alleged cross-border investment fraud in which clients in Thailand lost B1.7bn.
The suspects were charged with committing an international crime and public fraud, DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang said on Friday.
The Thai suspects -- Rattakhet Chayarat and Kanokkul Porn-apichote -- were allegedly involved in Eagle Gates Group Co Ltd, a US-based company claiming to manage assets and invest in index futures.
Pol Gen Paisit said a number of people filed complaints with the DSI in December last year, accusing the company of deceiving them into investing in foreign securities trading.
They had been promised returns of 3% to 20% a month depending on the package, with no restrictions on redemption of either the investment or returns, he said.
The complainants alleged that to boost its credibility the company set up a website indicating it was a world leading company based in the US and had been in operation for 10 years.
It also claimed to have experts to manage the funds purely for profit and that its financial liquidity was guaranteed by world's leading financial institutions.
“A big event was held in Pattaya, with hundreds of participants and performances by famous artists. Respectable investors were also invited to give speeches to convince people,” Pol Gen Paisit said.
As a result, a large number of people fell victim, with estimated damage up to 1.7 billion baht, he added.
The DSI later found the company had not managed assets as it claimed, nor was it licensed to operate any type of securities business with the potential to give such a return.
A further investigation found the perpetrators were involved in international organised crime.
“One group opened new companies and organised events to bolster credibility. The other moved assets from victims to nominee accounts,” he said
DSI deputy chief Songsak Raksakskul said the foreign suspects were business-savvy. One of them faced a theft charge and used forged documents to enter Thailand. They joined other foreign suspects from Singapore and the Netherlands to lure Thais into investing in the Eagle Gates Group.
“The US Homeland Security Department confirmed the company was set up in the US but had never operated anything before it was later sold. The name was then used to deceive people.
“Eagle Gates Group opened last year in Thailand and deceived many people. We also found links to money laundering by drug dealers,” Pol Gen Songsak said, adding that charges could follow later.
A few posts on the web community Pantip.com by people considering investing in the company indicate it also gave commissions to existing customers who brought in new clients, suggesting it might have been a Ponzi scheme.
The website BehindMLM, which reviews MLM businesses, also posted a review of the company on Nov 22, 2016.
A DSI official shows an advertisement material produced by Eagle Gates Group to lure customers.