2,000 scam-hit bank accounts frozen

2,000 scam-hit bank accounts frozen

New anti-scam centre able to act within 15 minutes of receiving a complaint

Luxury cars seized from a gang known as “P Miner”, which duped people into investing in a fraudulent crypto-mining business, are displayed following a raid in September. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Luxury cars seized from a gang known as “P Miner”, which duped people into investing in a fraudulent crypto-mining business, are displayed following a raid in September. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

A total of 2,004 bank accounts detected shortly after they were used in online scams have been frozen in the past week by the new Anti Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC), according to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES).

On average, the accounts were suspended within 15 minutes after the centre received complaints from the people who believed they were victims of an online scam, DES Minister Prasert Jantararuangthong said on Tuesday.

That was considerably faster than the initial 60-minute goal set for the centre, thanks to the active involvement of all banks and an increase in the number of lines added to its complaints hotline, said the minister.

Located at the National Telecom headquarters on Chaeng Watthana Road, the AOC is a one-stop service point to tackle rampant online scams. Its hotline number 1441 recently increased its capacity to 100 telephone lines from 20.

In the past week around 32,000 people who had fallen victim to online scams called the centre for help with suspending money transfers made from their accounts to accounts used by scammers to siphon off victims’ money, said the minister.

The efficiency of the campaign to curb online scams should improve further when the Nov 18 deadline for all operators of online businesses to register their businesses expires, said Mr Prasert.

Under the Digital Platform Royal Decree, all individuals who earn 1.8 million baht per year or more from operating an online platform, such as online shopping, are required to register.

Any legal entity operating an online business platform that earns more than 50 million baht a year is required to do the same.

The decree carries both civil and criminal penalties, said the minister.

Itthaboon Onwongsa, deputy secretary-general of the Thailand Consumers Council, said the AOC, Bank of Thailand and all financial institutions involved deserve credit for the improvement in the country’s ability to fight online scams.

Mr Itthaboon, however, said that if the centre could improve the speed of having a suspected online transaction suspended to within 3 minutes, it would be able to help even more victims. This is because it takes very little time for most scammers to siphon off stolen money to an overseas account through multiple local accounts, he said.

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