Village scammed into opening illegal bank accounts

Village scammed into opening illegal bank accounts

Residents told their details were needed for irrigation projects or political parties

NAKHON PHANOM: An entire village in this northeastern province has been scammed into opening illegal bank accounts, as around 200 residents recently discovered.

They were deceived into providing their personal information to scammers who claimed to represent the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) and unnamed political parties.

On Saturday, they gathered at a Kasikornbank branch in Wang Yang district to close the fraudulent accounts that had been opened in their names. They expressed concern that they could face prosecution under the new Royal Decree on Cyber Crime Prevention and Suppression, which took effect on March 17.

According to the victims, they were approached by agents last year who claimed that their documentation was needed for the launch of new political parties or to secure funds from the RID. They were paid 400 baht each to sell their personal information.

At least 3,000 individuals fell victim to the ruse, and officials have found that nearly every household in the village in Wang Yang had at least one person who was tricked. More than 100 accounts were opened using the villagers’ personal information

Even the village headman, Wayan Thanapa, fell victim to the scam. Many villagers have yet to take action, fearing legal liability for the fraudulent activity in their accounts, he said.

A campaign has been launched to encourage those affected by the scam to come forward and report the fraud.

The new law is intended to combat the use of so-called “mule” bank accounts by scammers, call-centre gangs and people seeking to launder funds from criminal activities.

People hired as nominees to open accounts, or who allow others to use mobile phone numbers for illegal activity, can face a three-year jail term and/or a maximum fine of 300,000 baht.

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