News : Teachers Scammed of Millions by Phone Fraudsters
Khon Kaen, Thailand, Dec 23, 2015 -- More than 100 people, most of them school teachers, were scammed of almost 50 million baht by 10 members of a call centre arrested by police in three provinces.
The seven men and three women detained in the police raids face charges of fraud, Pol Lt Gen Boonlert Jaipradit, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 4, said during a media briefing at his office in Khon Kaen on Wednesday.
Poonsak Srisaknok, Chanpen La-ngon, Wassana Tasorat, Jittakorn Seechompoo, Wanthana Oukart, Santi Santichai, Witthawat Boonsri, Anantachai La-ngon, Kiartisak Wongsurin and Kiartisak Patsing were arrested by police in Bangkok, Sa Kaeo and Chon Buri provinces and then taken to Khon Kaen.
Police also seized 20 mobile phones and SIM cards, many bank account books and ATM cards for several banks.
Pol Lt Gen Boonlert said the arrests followed a complaint by a group of teachers in Nong Bua Lam Phu province that they had been swindled by people who phoned them pretending to be bank employees.
The callers claimed the victims' bank accounts had been linked to drug trafficking networks and that they needed to examine the accounts. The panicked teachers had been tricked into giving out their bank account numbers and financial details.
To make the hoax calls seem believable, another gang member claiming to be a police officer with the rank of a police captain from the Narcotics Suppression Bureau or the Crime Suppression Division also contacted the victims, claiming he needed to examine their financial details, said Pol Lt Gen Boonlert.
Many of those called had fallen into the trap and transferred money to the gang’s accounts in exchange for promises the cases against them would be dropped. Five teachers in Nong Bua Lam Phu were the latest victims of the gang, and they had each handed over 30,000-70,000 baht.
‘’The suspects confessed to all charges. They admitted they had swindled more than 100 victims in provinces across the country and received money transfers totalling almost 50 million baht over the past three years,’’ said Pol Lt Gen Boonlert.
Pol Col Pongrit Khonsirisombat, the chief investigator, said the suspects had copied the methods of foreign call centre gangs operating in Thailand.
Police had first traced money transfers from the victims’ accounts to the gang’s accounts in Sa Kaeo, where some suspects were caught. The extended investigation led to the arrest of the other suspects.
The suspects confessed they had searched for potential victims online before contacting them. Each scammer contacted five victims a day, with teachers being their prime targets.
The 10 suspects would be taken to Nong Bua Lam Phu police station for further legal action, said Pol Col Pongrit.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, December 24, 2015