An army sergeant who claimed to have the personal data of 55 million Thais surrendered yesterday, admitting he obtained the information from the dark web.
SM2 Khemarat Boonchuai, 33, was brought to the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) yesterday after being reported missing without leave at the Army Transportation Department since April 3.
SM2 Khemarat, who called himself 9near, boasted to have held the personal data of 55 million Thais and had asked for a ransom in exchange for the information. While being arrested, SM2 Khemarat refused to talk about the incident.
Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES) Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn quoted SM2 Khemarat as saying he bought the data from a group of hackers on the dark web. The data has since been deleted.
Mr Chaiwut said he did not know when the data was collected, but he was sure the incident was non-political and that no nefarious force was behind it.
CCIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Worawat Watnakhonbancha said SM2 Khemarat had spent 8,000 baht to buy 8 million data records, not 55 million. He wrote about it online because he wanted attention.
Initially, he posted about the matter himself, but his post failed to draw any attention. So he asked an internet influencer he knew to demand a ransom online, which attracted widespread attention, the commissioner said.
"He did not have the data of 55 million people in his hands as was reported," Pol Lt Gen Worawat said.
SM2 Khemarat graduated in information technology. His girlfriend, a nurse, was originally viewed as the suspect who supplied the data, but investigators have since discovered that she has nothing to do with hospital computing systems.
SM2 had taken shelter in many places before surrendering to the authorities, Pol Lt Gen Worawat said.
SM2 Khemarat was charged with inputting false information into a computer system in a way that could undermine national security, and forwarding false information in breach of the Computer Crime Act, said Pol Lt Gen Worawat.