Rush to close 'mule' bank accounts

Rush to close 'mule' bank accounts

Customers queue outside a commercial bank branch in That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom province on Tuesday. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)
Customers queue outside a commercial bank branch in That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom province on Tuesday. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)

NAKHON PHANOM: Police report many people rushing to close "mule" bank accounts they say were opened without their knowledge by scammers who fooled them into handing over their personal data.

They have also hastened to their local police stations, insisting they were innocent and had been gulled by criminals.

The rush follows passage of new laws providing for harsh penalties for people whose bank accounts are used by swindlers to move money sucked from their victims.   

Pol Maj Gen Thawatchai Thungpao, the provincial police chief, said people had been reporting to police stations in all 12 districts of this northeastern border province, complaining they had been tricked into opening nominee bank accounts.

"They were offered 400-500 baht each for their personal data, and they were told the broker would register them for political party membership, or for government welfare," Pol Maj Gen Thawatchai said. "The data was actually abused, used to open bank accounts they were unaware of."

He said many people went to their local bank branches on Tuesday to close "mule" accounts that had been opened using their names and details. Many learned these accounts had been used for suspicious transactions, sometimes involving hundreds of thousands of baht.

Some had already been prosecuted for opening accounts used by scammers, he said.

The rush to close "mule" accounts followed passage of a new law imposing harsh penalties on people hired as nominees to open accounts, or who allow others to use their mobile phone number for illegal activities.

Penalties range up to a three-year prison term and/or fine of 300,000 baht.

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29 May 2023