DSI sounds the alert over online scams

DSI sounds the alert over online scams

Teenage gang used internet cafes as base

The DSI says around 20 teenagers were involved in the online fraud gang busted in Chanthaburi, operating out of internet cafes and game shops. (Graphic provided)
The DSI says around 20 teenagers were involved in the online fraud gang busted in Chanthaburi, operating out of internet cafes and game shops. (Graphic provided)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has warned internet users to be more careful about posting their personal information on popular social networking sites after a teenage gang allegedly exploited personal information on Facebook to fool people in various scams that caused seven million baht in damages in Chanthaburi.

Once in possession of a victim's personal details from social networking sites, gang members would assume the victim's identity to scam friends and relatives to lend them money, pay fees to collect prizes or buy brand-name electronics at unusually cheap prices, the DSI warned.

The DSI found about 20 suspects, aged between 15 and 16 years, taking part in the scams, using game shops in Chanthaburi as their base, DSI's chief of Bureau of Technology and Cyber Crime Pol Lt Col Wichai Suwanprasert said Monday.

His agency received complaints from Chanthaburi residents, but victims are believed to be spread across the country, he said.

According to the warning, the scammers used online chats between friends -- a routine that often goes unchecked -- to borrow money, or use social media to offer fake prizes or sell deeply discounted products, such as smart phones, cameras and watches.

To make it difficult for investigators to track, the scammers used Facebook to hire people to receive money on their behalf, Pol Lt Col Wichai said.

They were told to open bank accounts to transfer the money to an online payment platform the gang had set up, he said.

Some people were also fooled into buying SIM cards from the gang which, once their ID card numbers were known, would "link the SIM cards with the [digital] wallet", Pol Lt Col Wichai said.

According to investigators, the gang leader has committed the crimes since he was in senior high school.

"They used game shops or internet cafés as their base to avoid being inspected," Pol Lt Col Wichai said, adding they took advantage of the shop owners' failure to comply with cybersecurity measures.

By law, internet café operators are required to record customer computer usage and review them within a 90-day period. However, the practice is usually ignored.

Pol Lt Col Wichai said that the game shops used as the scammers' bases were shut down, but investigators have no evidence that ties the shops' owners to the crime.

Athipat Ploiplaikaeo, manager for risk management of True Corp, an internet service provider, warned users to be more careful about posting their personal information on social networking sites -- including their photos, as well as their family members.

"Criminals don't want to be your friends. They just want to use your information for wrongdoings," Mr Athipat said.


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