Chiang Mai: Twenty-four suspected “hybrid” scammers, most of them Chinese nationals, were arrested yesterday in Fang district, said police inspector-general Pol Gen Wissanu Prasartthong-osod.
The suspects were busted at a resort in tambon Mae Soon, said Pol Gen Wissanu, who also heads the Royal Thai Police’s Combating Transnational Criminals and Illegal Immigrants Centre (CTIC).
Of them, 20 were Chinese nationals, one Thai and three stateless people.
They were allegedly hired to run a romance-cum-investment scam preying on Thais and foreign nationals, particularly Japanese.
Seized from them were 10 computer notebooks, 20 computer screens, 10 central processing units (CPUs), 244 mobile phones ready for use, six SIM cards and two thumb drives.
Pol Gen Wissanu said the police were tipped off that the suspects were operating the scam out of a resort and raided the premises.
He said the gang created fake social media accounts and dating applications featuring good-looking women whose images were stolen from websites.
The accounts and applications had lured unsuspecting men who engaged in conversations with the gang.
Over time, the victims were asked to invest in the money market via the online platform called “metatrader” which the gang operated.
The platform deceived the victims into thinking the money trade was genuine. After they transferred money to the bogus investment, the gang cut off all contact with victims.
The 24 suspects allegedly confessed to having been paid between 25,000-35,000 baht a month to operate the scam.
They worked from 9am-9pm on weekdays and noon to 5pm at weekends.
They were charged with colluding to defraud people by posing as someone else and importing fraudulent information into a computer system.
The Chinese suspects faced an additional charge of either overstaying their visas or staying in the kingdom without permission.
Pol Gen Wissanu said many scammer gangs, which employ foreign nationals, managed to evade the authorities’ suspicion by setting up operations in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai which are major tourism provinces where overseas nationals are a common sight.
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