11 nabbed for Bang Sue jab system fraud

11 nabbed for Bang Sue jab system fraud

Centre staff accused of selling bookings

Crowds queue up for Covid-19 vaccinations at the Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Crowds queue up for Covid-19 vaccinations at the Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Police have charged 11 people with breaking into the vaccination booking system at the Bang Sue Grand Station vaccination centre and selling vaccine booking quotas.

Mingkwan Wichaidit, the director of the Institute of Dermatology who is also running the centre, said officials found a suspiciously large number of vaccination bookings -- up to 2,000 accounts -- in the system.

Dr Mingkwan said the officials decided to proceed with 300 of these suspicious bookings to lure people into turning up for their vaccine appointments so police could step in and investigate further.

Based on the centre's investigation, people bought vaccine reservation bookings at 400-1,200 baht each.

Police investigated the booking system and found 11 system users, volunteers at the centre who entered the bookings into the system.

The alleged fraudsters have since been charged by the police.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the culprits face 3-10 years in prison if found guilty.

Mr Chidchob said the suspects allegedly hacked into the system through the mobile system operator connected to the system.

They were fraudulently selling bookings to have shots at the Bang Sue Grand Station vaccination centre up to 1,500 people per day, he said. It is not yet clear how many people were involved in the scam.

Dr Mingkwan said the centre's officers first detected suspicious actions in the system seven days ago outside operating times.

Currently, the vaccination centre has not opened vaccination bookings to organisations except those from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has secured doses for the elderly, so it was rare to have bulk bookings.

Pol Maj Gen Amnat Traipot said seven of the 11 accused include officials from the Department of Medical Services and one mobile operator.

He said an investigative panel will be set up to further detect suspicious use of information on the vaccination booking system.

Previously, the police found a group of people -- mostly city office and factory workers -- near one of the station's gates who were suspected of being part of a scheme to defraud the vaccine booking system.

Investigations are continuing.

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