Russian realtors lose B1.8m in extortion

Russian realtors lose B1.8m in extortion

A Russian couple claims they were intimidated and extorted by a group of foreign men at a coffee shop in Koh Samui, Surat Thani. (Photo: TV Screen Capture)
A Russian couple claims they were intimidated and extorted by a group of foreign men at a coffee shop in Koh Samui, Surat Thani. (Photo: TV Screen Capture)

SURAT THANI: A Russian couple who deal in real estate have sought help from the police, saying a gang of foreign men confronted them in a coffee bar in Koh Samui and extorted them out of 1.8 million baht in cryptocurrency.

Evgenii Abdullin and his wife Ekaterna Abdullin, both 31, filed their complaint with Pol Lt Col Udomsak Thappa, the chief of investigations at Koh Samui police station, on Monday.

They said they were at the Boy's Organic Coffee shop in tambon Taling-ngam of Koh Samui district on Sept 15 when six foreign men approached their table and threatened them, demanding money, Pol Col Phongsak Sukkasang, the district police chief said on Tuesday.

According to their complaint, four of the men arrived in a black van and the two others on a motorcycle. The men intimidated the couple and demanded they transfer US$3 million (114 million baht) in cryptocurrency to them.

Mr Abdullin said he told them he only had $58,000, worth about 2.28 million baht, at the time. Fearing for their lives, he transferred $50,000 worth of cryptocurrency, equivalent to 1.8 million baht, to the six men. Before leaving, the gang gave him a phone number.

On Sept 16, he noticed the same men were following him and his wife.

On Sept 18, he received a message from the gang via the Telegram app asking whether he had the rest of the money. If so, he should send it, or the equivalent in crypto, to them via Bybit, Mr Abullin said he was told. He decided to go to the police instead.

Provincial Police Region 8 has assigned Pol Lt Col Kittisak Daengchai, its deputy investigation chief, and a team to work on the case with the Koh Samui police. They started by examining security camera recordings from the coffee shop and nearby.

Police said they spotted the black van and the two men on a red motorcycle, as told by the couple.

Police said the van with the four men might have come from the eastern province of Chon Buri. The red motorcycle had an "M'' sticker on it and was rented on the island. The van is believed to have since left the island, police said.

A source at an immigration checkpoint said the Russian couple had been staying on Koh Samui for five years and ran a real estate business there. They had travelled in and out of Thailand many times. Their latest arrival was early this year.

The accused foreigners were identified as two Kazakhstani men, one German and one Russian, with the nationalities of the two others still being verified.

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