Online usury network busted

Online usury network busted

Police arrest members of an online illegal lending network charging exorbitant interest rates. They were among 29 people arrested. (Photo supplied)
Police arrest members of an online illegal lending network charging exorbitant interest rates. They were among 29 people arrested. (Photo supplied)

Twenty-nine members of an online illegal lending network with about 450 million baht in circulation were arrested during police raids in five provinces.

Eight of them were wanted on arrest warrants issued by the Criminal Court on June 13 on charges of colluding in illegally running money lending services and charging interest rates higher than legal limits, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Phuridej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, said on Thursday.

Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECD) police arrested the eight suspects, all men, during raids in Chanthaburi, Pathum Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok. 

They were  identified as Aniwat Buayai, 26; Alongkorn Saengsutha, 26; Thanaphon Sripa, 19; Natthawut Phumee, 24; Phongsakorn Jullasri, 26; Jiraphan Phongsukree, 26; Adithep Lanlana, 31; and Somchok Artharn, 25. 

Seized from the suspects were more than 300 items, including 54 mobile phones, 24 notebook computers, two computers, four tablet computers and a number of SIM cards.

ECD police also arrested 21 other people working for the illegal money nework in Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Bangkok and Pathum Thani.

Pol Col Phadol Chandon, superintendent of ECD sub-division 5, said a group of small-business operators filed a complaint with sub-division 5 police that they had borrowed money online via website, and were charged exorbitant interest rates.

They had been asked to pay 1.5% per day, or 45% per month. As they were unable to meet the high payments, those running the website had sent a men to intimidate them.

ECD investigators larned that the website encouraged people to borrow money, targeting small and medium-sized busineeses which lacked liquidity and could not get access to legal funding. This online lending service had shortened approval procedures, not requiring people to act as loan quarantors. 

The website had about 450 million baht in circulation, Pol Col Phadol said.

Those running the website had taken adventage of people, charging them excessive interest rates. He expected the victims numbered several hundreds. Some borrowers had become so  stressed they tried to commit suicide, he said.

The website was ordered closed and the investigation was extended to bring those behind the lending website to task, Pol Col Phadol said.

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