Seven African men — six Nigerian nationals and one Ghanaian — have been arrested in Pattaya for allegedly swindling 10 million baht from more than 100 Thai women online, police said on Saturday.
Chon Buri police chief Nitipong Niamnoi said the arrests followed a police investigation into complaints that many Thai women had been duped into transferring money into the men's accounts.
Police said the gang preyed on women by sending messages via Facebook or online dating websites. To attract potential victims, they used photographs of good-looking Western men as their profile pictures and claimed to be drilling engineers or millionaires wanting to marry Thai women, said Pol Maj Gen Nitipong.
When the victims responded, the men demonstrated their generosity by saying they had sent them valuable ornaments worth millions of baht. However, they claimed the goods had not been cleared through customs as taxes had to be paid in Thai currency. They asked the victims to transfer money to their bank accounts, usually 100,000 to 200,000 baht each, said the police chief.
Some gang members also duped women into investing in businesses with a promise of high returns. In the past five years, more than 100 Thai women had fallen for the ruses and the damage was about 10 million baht, said Pol Maj Gen Nitipong.
Police tracing the illegal activities tracked the gang to the L.V. Apartment in Soi Chalerm Phrakiart 17 on Pattaya 3 Road in South Pattaya, where the arrests were made. Officers also seized seven laptop computers, one mobile phone and three tablets at the scene.
The officers initially charged the suspects with illegal entry and said they would press additional charges after victims showed up to identify them.
The Nigerial suspects were identified as Williams Chinwedu, 39; Kemmeth Ovuegbe, 40; Emmanuel Onyedikachi Iromuanya, 32; Uchechukwu Nwaogu, 30; Mater Ukwugu, 26; and Udoji Fidelis Anaekwe, 31. Also arrested was Kofi Mensah, 37, of Ghana.