Meditation centre nuns charged with B10m investment scheme fraud

Meditation centre nuns charged with B10m investment scheme fraud

Ms Issaree, 49, alias Mae Chee Ou (nun Ou), owner of Phra Phutsikkhi meditation centre in Muang district, Nakhon Phanom, is taken to Muang police station to face fraud charges. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)
Ms Issaree, 49, alias Mae Chee Ou (nun Ou), owner of Phra Phutsikkhi meditation centre in Muang district, Nakhon Phanom, is taken to Muang police station to face fraud charges. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)

NAKHON PHANOM: Three Buddhist nuns have been arrested and charged with running a pyramid scheme-like fund out of a meditation centre in Muang district, allegedly defrauding hundreds of investors out of 10 million baht.

A team led by Nakhon Phanom police chief Pol Maj Gen Thanachart Rodkhlongtan apprehended the alleged leader, Mae Chee Ou (nun Ou), at Phra Phutsikkhi meditation centre in tambon Nong Yat of Muang district on Wednesday.

The nun, 49, whose lay name was given only as Ms Issaree, claimed to hold the clerical title Phraya Thammikkarat Inchaiya. She was named on an arrest warrant issued by the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Court on charges of fraud. 

Her arrest followed complaints by more than 400 people that a woman claiming to be the owner of the meditation centre, and her two assistants, had set up pha pa funds similar to a  pyramid scheme, with promised high returns in the form of cash and gold adornments.

Each complainant had invested 2,000-3,500 baht. None had received the promised returns.  

The two other nuns were arrested on April 22 and charged. They were identified as Arunee Chanthanam, 45, alias nun Thongphoon of Sakon Nakhon, and Pailin Sunthornsuwan, 31, alias Nan Cartoon of Nakhon Phanom. The duo were allegedly tasked with persuading people to invest in the funds.

The court approved their continued detention pending further investigation.

Police planned to ask the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Court to also approve Ms Issaree's continued detention. 

Ms Issaree told reporters she was a noble individual, similar to a noble monk, who did not cling to anything.

She said the pha pa funds were set up to help the poor. The cash would be returned to those who made merit and had faith in the funds, but the payments would be made at an auspicious time. 

She claimed those merit-making people had exhibited greed, and this caused problems.

Provincial Buddhism Office chief Julasan Than-inart on Wednesday said Ms Issaree did not have any clerical title as claimed. She was an ordinary woman. Police could take action against her if she was found to have broken the law.

During the arrest, police also found a monk at the meditation centre, Phra Chokchai Suphattho, 36. He was there from a temple in Sing Buri to practice meditation and had nothing to do with the alleged fraud, Mr Julasan said.

The monk was told to return to his temple. The three nuns faced legal action, the Provincial Buddhism Office chief said.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (26)

Two killed in separate incidents in Narathiwat

NARATHIWAT: A man was shot dead after returning from a forest to collect wild products and hunt animals in Sri Sakhon district while a woman was found dead with gunshot and stab wounds in Tak Bai district of this southern province.

15:43

US school shooter’s parents arrested

DETROIT, Michigan: The parents of a 15-year-old who shot dead four students at a US high school with a gun bought by his father have been arrested after being charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to US media reports.

15:36

More illegal border crossers caught in Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI: Fifteen more job seekers and two guides from Myanmar were arrested after they crossed the border into Thailand in Fang district shortly before dawn on Saturday.

14:47