Psychics didn't see blitz coming
Police are cracking down on mediums who are swindling people
Police have launched a crackdown on people who claim to be psychics after receiving complaints some of them are allegedly swindling money out of their customers.
Scores of mediums are seen to have promoted themselves through social media and become well-known through word of mouth, according to police.
Many claimed to be possessed by the spirits of the past kings and their followers lost a huge amount of money to these psychics, officers said.
The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) instructed the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) to launch sting operations and catch them red-handed.
The crackdowns have been carried out secretly over the past two weeks with at least three mediums netted. Police said no criminal charges have yet to be brought against them since they preferred to use the "carrot rather than the stick approach" with them first.
The approach is needed as the issue connected to people's faith and belief can be sensitive, according to police.
Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitak, commissioner of the CIB, said police were enforcing the law swiftly as some mediums were posing as the spirits of those in the high institutions "which is completely inappropriate".
The focus of the crackdown will also be on those who devised tricks to cheat the unsuspecting people, he said.
Charges would be pressed against them if police received complaints from their victims, he said.
"We do not want people to see that police are intimidating these mediums since this is a matter of personal belief," Pol Lt Gen Thitirat said. "However, if we let this situation go on any longer, the mediums could exploit their victims by asserting their claims they are vested with supernatural power, which is not real."
According to the CSD, police earlier nabbed a couple who claimed to serve as a medium for King Rama IX in Nakhon Pathom after they organised a rite which was widely shared on YouTube. The woman was found later to be mentally ill.
Another man who acted as a medium for King Rama V was caught in Chachoengsao, police said. This person, who applied makeup and dressed like King Rama V, ran an unlicensed clinic which doubles as a fortune telling outlet.
Police also nabbed another man who claimed to be the medium of Phra Sri Ariyametrai, who was the fifth life in the Lord Buddha's past, police said. He claimed he could foretell people's future and cleanse them of their sins.
After a talk with police, the mediums, whose real names were not given, agreed to stop the spiritual possession business.
Pol Lt Gen Thitirat said police have been closely monitoring some specific individuals. Among them is the man who claimed to be King Rama V's medium. He is in his 30s.
The man told police he had been suffering from a chronic illness. He felt helpless and asked for a cosmic blessing. Before long, his condition improved and that made him think he haboured magical powers, according to Pol Lt Gen Thitirat.
The commissioner said the man was deluded and thought King Rama V had cured him.
The man finally admitted his spirit possession was fake but he believed he recovered from the illness by something supernatural, Pol Lt Gen Thitirat said.
The commissioner said he had explained to the man that his recovery from the illness may be from the good deeds he had done in the past, which had nothing to do with any spiritual possession. The man promised the police he would give up the habit and the police let him go, Pol Lt Gen Thitirat said.
The CIB chief said he also instructed the Technology Crime Suppression Division to track down the mediums who are operating businesses online. They would be summonsed for talks with the police.
He conceded some mediums claimed they could be possessed by the spirits of multiple kings. One woman police have questioned some time ago said she was able to perform a medium entity for King Naresuan and King Taksin.
She was identified as Sangsuriyathep Phramahasuriya, 49, aka "High-tech 4.0 medium", who ran a medium-service facility in Nonthaburi.
Atchariya Ruangratanapong, chairman of the crime victims' assistance group, filed a complaint on June 18 at the CSD.
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