4 accused of defrauding social plan

4 accused of defrauding social plan

Police have pressed charges against four individuals suspected of defrauding the half-half co-payment social welfare scheme. Police also suspect that more than 700 others may have defrauded the scheme.

Pol Maj Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapat, deputy chief of the national police, on Fridayannounced the results of an investigation into the matter.

Four individuals allegedly encouraged co-payers to make fraudulent purchases so money can be withdrawn from the scheme.

Investigators found suspicious transactions at a grocery store in Samut Sakhon province. Police said many co-payers there made suspicious transactions far from where they live, including Chiang Mai and Songkhla.

The co-payers reportedly received 80–100 baht per fraudulent transaction.

The scheme subsidises the purchases of registered individuals at small shops by 50%. The scheme was meant to help shop owners.

To use the scheme, transactions between sellers and customers must be done through Krungthai Bank's app Paotang.

Police suspect more than 700 co-payers cheated the system.

Investigators were still digging into the case, Pol Maj Gen Damrongsak said.

The Fiscal Policy Office, which oversees the scheme, is considering filing complaints against fraudulent co-payers in each province, he added.

He said if found guilty, a culprit could be jailed up to 20 years or more, the deputy chief of police said.

He warned that people should not cheat the system, noting police would step up efforts to inspect shops and customers. If they were found to have defrauded the scheme, they would be banned from using the system again and face prosecution, he said.

The objective of the scheme is to stimulate consumer spending in the final quarter after sentiment was gutted by the pandemic.

Its first phase, worth 30 billion baht, started on Oct 23 and ends on Dec 31. The second phase in January is expected to cover an additional five million people, with the amount of subsidies raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht per person.

The 10 million people who have already registered with the first phase will be eligible for an extra 500 baht.

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