Accused 'BoT' scam artist denied bail
'Aunt Louise with second sight' and nine others accused of bilking followers out of at least B500m
published : 16 Nov 2019 at 15:31
writer: Online Reporters
The Criminal Court has refused to grant bail to a woman who claimed supernatural powers, along with five others accused of duping many followers out of at least 500 million baht.
Pantipa Naiyathip, 66, alias “Na Louise Ta Thip” (Aunt Louise with second sight), and nine online recruiters were brought to the court on Saturday after Crime Suppression Division officers arrested them on charges of public fraud and money laundering on Friday.
The nine were Preedaporn Khamhom, 35; Natthapong Amphai, 53; Napada Taemcharoen, 48; Saiyant Nirat, 51; Thanakorn Suksomboon, 53; Chonthewee Inthaphor, 57, Lamai Choo-im, 54; Prapas Sriwanna, 42; and Udon Thanaruek, 39.
The court approved bail for four men — Thanakorn, Saiyant, Prapas and Udon — after they placed 300,000 baht each as surety.
But Ms Pantipa and the five other recruiters were ordered detained for 12 days as the case caused huge damage and they were flight risks, Thai media reported.
The female suspects were later taken to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution and the men were detained at Bangkok Remand Prison. Suspects can be detained for seven 12-day periods, or 84 days in total, before indictments must be formally brought against them.
Investigators said Ms Pantipa exploited her followers’ faith by forming groups on social media, run by her partners, in which members were asked to invest 1,000 baht each. In return they were promised profits of over a million baht, backed by the Bank of Thailand (BoT). The members were shown forged central bank documents to back the claim, according to CSD officers.
Her followers invested a total of 500 hundred million baht, only to discover the deception years later when the promised returns failed to materialise.
Poli Col Wirachan Khunchaikaew, superintendent of CSD sub-division 6, on Saturday urged other victims of the Ponzi scheme to file complaints with police.
Investigators are working with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to trace the money trail of Ms Pantipa and her accomplices, Thai media reported.
Sources said Ms Pantipa had been arrested twice in 2016 and 2017 on fraud charged and granted bail, only to continue defrauding people.
Pol Col Wirachan said she had reportedly started transferring her assets to her relatives and close aides after she was released on bail earlier.