Online scams target SMEs, lonely women

Online scams target SMEs, lonely women

Tourist police last year announced the arrest of four Nigerian nationals who allegedly swindled a Thai woman out of 160,000 baht in an online love scam. The Department of Special Investigation warned on Monday that the number of people falling victim to such romance scams is growing. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Tourist police last year announced the arrest of four Nigerian nationals who allegedly swindled a Thai woman out of 160,000 baht in an online love scam. The Department of Special Investigation warned on Monday that the number of people falling victim to such romance scams is growing. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Online scams by foreigners and their Thai accomplices continue to prey on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and elderly, single women, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has warned.

Nithit Phurikhup, director of the DSI's Bureau of Technology and Cyber Crime, said on Monday that Thai and foreign fraudsters recently tricked at least 10 small Thai businesses out of more than 50 million baht by pretending to be their foreign suppliers and instructing the victims to transfer payments to their accounts.

The swindlers usually hacked into the computer systems of suppliers to get the contacts of their customers, mostly small exporters arranging trades online and often by email, and then gave false advice on money transfers, he said.

He advised operators to contact suppliers immediately to verify any changes to accounts for payments, and use many communication channels, not just email.

"These fraudsters use fake passports of at least 15 countries, and commonly have 20 or more bank accounts in Thailand," Mr Nithit said.

He also warned that romance scams by Nigerians and their Thai accomplices had been common for over a decade and targeted single women aged between 47 and 77.

The foreigners were responsible for English-language sweet chats, claiming to be white, handsome and successful professionals, while Thai accomplices had bank accounts to receive money from the victims, Mr Nithit said.

The DSI recently obtained arrest warrants for 30 suspects  - 26 Thais, three Nigerians and one Indian. They tricked seven victims out of 19 million baht, he said. The suspects fled to Malaysia and the DSI was seeking their extradition.

They had about 30 bank accounts with transactions totalling more than 50 million baht, Mr Nithit said.

"The romance scams prey on the lonely and encourage chats. Most victims are well-educated. The trick is the same, to lure their targets into falling in love. Despite being the same old trick, their victims are growing in number," he said.


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