Police have busted a Chinese-led gang that used the name of a respected jewellery firm to lure people into a bogus billion-baht gold investment scheme.
Raids on 21 premises in Bangkok, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai over the past week resulted in the arrest of 26 suspects, six of them Chinese nationals, Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said on Tuesday. There were 50 suspects in the case.
He said the scammers were based in Thailand and misused the name of a well-known jewellery manufacturing company, Aurora Design, to attract their victims.
According to the commissioner, the gang was run by four Chinese nationals and a Thai woman - Aixia Liu, 48, Long Huabiao, 38, Yangfeng Xiao, 29, Liang Wang, 28, and Sakuna Chansuk, 44. The Chinese suspects were apprehended in Bangkok and Chon Buri. The other two Chinese were not named.
The gang created a fake Facebook page in the name of Aurora Design, offering investment returns of 20-30%. When investors tried to withdraw their promised profits, they were blocked and all contact ceased.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said most of the arrested suspects denied all charges. Police impounded cryptocurrency worth about 28 million baht found in their possession for examination.
"Investigators found that the group had more than 1.2 billion baht in circulation," he said.
The gang had Thai proxies running three front companies which processed its money.
According to the CIB chief, victims' money was transferred through three layers of Thai mule accounts into foreigners' accounts.
Some of the money was spent in Thailand and on goods purchased overseas. The goods were delivered to Cambodia and Laos, where they were sold for cash. The victims' money was also used to buy into cryptocurrencies or to buy property.
Unlike call scams, which operated from neighbouring countries, this gang was based in Thailand, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said. The investigation was ongoing.