More suspects arrested in phone scam duping Americans out of 3 billion baht

More suspects are now in Thai police custody in relation to the phone scam that duped unsuspecting elderly Americans out of 3 billion baht.

According to the Bangkok Post, 20 people have been arrested- 15 Thais and five Indian nationals- for their involvement in a phone scam that preyed on Americans. Police say they raided places in the provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri, Surat Thani, and Roi Et.

All five of the Indian suspects were men and 11 of the 15 Thais were women, according to Torsak Sukwimol, a deputy national police chief.

Police say they seized 162 bank account books, 61 mobile phones, one pistol, two cars, land title deeds and other assets. The investigation started last year over the phone scams, with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Secret Service informing Thai police of the suspected scam.

The scam allegedly involved the Indian and Thai cyber criminals talking elderly Americans into transferring money to them after pretending to be US law-enforcement officials.

They allegedly told the victims that they were being investigated for alleged money laundering and demanded that they transfer money into their accounts if they wanted their cases settled without further action.

Some of the victims were sent links that contained viruses, which allowed the scammers to take control of their devices. Police say as many as 72,000 phone scam cases were reported between 2020 and 2021.

The US reportedly asked Thai police to help them investigate 365 of those cases. Thai police say the scammers worked in a network that divided tasks between its members.

The scam gang reportedly used Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Peru, and Poland as bases to receive money transfers from victims.

The scammers in Thailand had around 1 billion baht in circulation between bank accounts with police saying links to juristic persons were found. Every month, police say the network had about 10 million baht in circulation.

Police say some of the money was laundered through gold shops, entertainment venues in Chon Buri, and restaurants. The Indian suspects were the ones who initiated the scams by asking Thais to open bank accounts and companies.

More people are suspected to be arrested in connection with the scam as some Americans and foreigners working in the US reportedly sold information to the Indian-led gang.

The suspects have been charged with colluding in transnational crime, putting false information into a computer system, laundering money, fraud, and related offences.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.