CHIANG RAI: Officers from Provincial Police Region 5 and Immigration Bureau have arrested a Chinese national and 12 accomplices for online scam charges.
Pol Lt Gen Piya Tawichai, Provincial Police Region 5 commissioner, said yesterday the arrest followed a tip-off about a gang of scammers operating in Chiang Rai city.
Armed with a search warrant issued by Chiang Rai Provincial Court on Saturday, the police joined forces with immigration police to raid a commercial building in tambon Rob Wiang, Muang district the same day, where they found the gang busy scamming victims on their computers.
Police arrested Chu Huaixiang, a Chinese national who was identified as the gang leader along with 12 members of his team, which includes both Thai and Chinese nationals. Police also seized computers found in the building.
Pol Lt Gen Piya said the gang initiated the scam by creating fake profiles on Facebook, using photos of good-looking people taken from the internet as the profile pictures. They set up Facebook groups named Tam Boon Online ("making merit online") and "Tour Boon" ("travelling and making merit").
Thai members of the gang would then send Facebook messages to anyone they found on social media. If they get a response, they will continue talking with the victim to gain their trust. After a while, the gang members would trick the victim into making a cash donation and ask the victim to download a mobile application named App.Shaoxiang.cfd.
The application, developed by the gang's Chinese members, was touted to be an online merit making application. It features pictures of temples in Chiang Rai to create the illusion of legitimacy. However, all the money donated through the app was actually transferred to proxy bank accounts, said the police.
The gang were charged with fraud and inputting fake data into the computer system.
The police will expand their investigations to find out who are behind the proxy bank accounts, in a bid to find other people who are involved with the scam.