Women lost B29m to foreign online romeos

Women lost B29m to foreign online romeos

A woman victim explains to a Crime Suppression Division officer how an online scammer, said to be part of an African gang, tricked her into transferring money into his account. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
A woman victim explains to a Crime Suppression Division officer how an online scammer, said to be part of an African gang, tricked her into transferring money into his account. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

A civic group has asked police to track down online scammers who used photographs of good-looking Western men and foreign politicians to swindle more than 29 million baht from Thai women, with one victim losing 23 million baht.

Pornnaphat Chartpuek, administrator of the Facebook Thai Anti Scam Page, on Wednesday led a group of the victims to file a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division.

Victims were duped into transfering money into the scammers’ accounts, with amounts ranging from 60,000 baht to a mammoth 23 million baht, for a total of over 29 million baht, said Ms Pornnaphat.

The presented police with evidence that included records of money transactions and online conversations with the fraudsters.

The Thai Anti Scam Page received complaints from 15-20 victims a day, she said. Most  of the victims had been duped by African nationals, mostly Nigerians, according to Ms Pornnaphat, who approached them via Facebook and online chat programmes.

The swindlers often used photographs of handsome Western men or foreign politicians, like British prime minister David Cameron, as their Facebook profile pictures to lure their victims, she said.

They professed love, lying to their victims and saying they wanted to marry them. They promised to  wire money or send gifts, but then claimed their money transfers had incurred problems. They then asked the women to transfer money to them to pay the fees for overseas money transfers. Others persuaded their victims  to send them money for overseas investment.

Other cons included asking women to show their bodies via webcam, and then using the pictures to blackmail them, Ms Pornnaphat said. She alleged that some Thai women had colluded with the scammers to hook the victims.

Luk Tarn, one of the victims, told police that she had met a foreigner via an online chat programme. The man duped her into transferring 23 million baht into his account, she claimed.

She had earlier lodged a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation, but the inquiry was making no progress. So she decided to seek help from the CSD, Ms Luk Tarn said. 


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