Nigerian-run online scam network busted, 3 arrests

Nigerian-run online scam network busted, 3 arrests

KHON KAEN: Three Thais working for a Nigerian-led online scam in Udon Thani province have been arrested while fleeing to the South.

Arrest warrants have been approved for the two Nigerian men alleged to have run the network.

Thanate Sripiboon, 48, of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, and two women, Wathinee Krongthong, 49, of Surat Thani and Kotchakorn Onuara, 27, of Khon Kaen, were apprehended in a southern province, Pol Lt Gen Surachai Khuandechakupt, chief of Provincial Police Region 4, told a news conference in Khon Kaen yesterday.

Officers also seized bank books and ATM cards in their possession.

Pol Lt Gen Surachai said the three suspects were members of a romance scam network operated by the Nigerians. Police had kept a close watch on the group after it was reported they had swindled money from victims in Udon Thani province.

Arrest warrants have been obtained for two Nigerian men, John Oquejiofor Ugwu and Ugochukwu Geoffrey Ofoma, Lt Gen Surachai said.

A transgender woman had earlier filed a complaint with Muang Udon Thani police alleging that she had been duped by a foreign scammer via Instagram into transferring money to him. The scammer used the Instagram name Cheong Xao and claimed to be a Malaysian national working in the US.

After they had chatted over the internet for over four weeks, Cheong Xao said he would send brand-name goods to her via a courier firm, but she had to first transfer money to cover the tax charges, about 117,000 baht, to a bank account he nominated.

The victim sent the money and never heard from the man again, Pol Lt Gen Surachai said.

"Police tracked the bank account number the victim sent the money to and found out it belonged to Mr Thanate," he said.

"The suspect then implicated Ms Wathinee as the person who withdrew the money, which was later deposited into two bank accounts held by Ms Kotchakorn and Mr Ofoma."

Police found the gang had been running the scam for more than a year and had at least 10 million baht in circulation in their accounts. Many people were believed to have fallen victim to the gang.

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