Cops net scammers, seize assets
Thirty-four suspects, including foreign nationals, have been arrested in Bangkok and three other provinces for operating call centre scams and online gambling, the Royal Thai Police announced Monday.
The arrests were made during raids conducted in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Chon Buri and Phuket last Thursday with assistance from the Chinese authorities.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, the Tourism Police Bureau deputy chief, headed a press conference at the Royal Thai Police Office.
He said more than 50 million baht worth of evidence, including luxury cars, land title deeds and a large amount of cash was confiscated from the suspects. Police said the cash included 20 million baht and money in other currencies worth 10 million baht.
Police teams, made up of officers from the tourist police and the Technology Crime Suppression Division, launched the crackdown in 14 locations across the four provinces.
They netted 34 suspects in two cases. In the call centre scam, 19 suspects were caught: 17 Chinese, one Myanmar and one Vanuatu national.
In the online gambling case, 15 people were arrested: nine Chinese, three Myanmar and three Thais.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate said in the call centre case, the suspects were linked to a gang which operated out of Phuket.
The commander said the gang posed as a financial institution offering to lend people money through WeChat, a Chinese multipurpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app. The gang targets mostly Chinese people.
People who fell for the scam transferred their money to the gang's accounts in order to open a "line of credit", which was the first step towards obtaining the bogus loan.
After the money was wired, the gang closed the accounts.
The commander said a Chinese victim had committed suicide after losing his life savings worth more than two million baht to the gang.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate added that the gang had also used Thailand as a base to speculate on the stock market in China. The gang opened a company as a front three years ago.