Myanmar national sought by Thai cyber police in iPhone fraud scheme involving mule accounts

Photo: KhaoSod.

The Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau is gearing up to issue an arrest warrant for a Myanmar national involved in a fraudulent iPhone sale to a sixth-form student. The scheme involved easily controlled mule accounts, with a recent arrest of a 39 year old woman, Nattanicha Suksri, who was involved in withdrawing funds. The arrest took place yesterday in Chiang Rai province.

During the investigation, the Cyber Police, led by Police Lieutenant Chaiyaphon Thapvong, interrogated three suspects, including 18 year old Ratanaporn Chankeang and 19 year old Theerawat Sridon. Both were found to be the third and fourth mule account holders, respectively.

All three suspects admitted to their roles in the scheme. Young people were paid 3,000 baht to set up mule accounts, while the money withdrawers were hired via Facebook by a Myanmar national known as Jai.

They were tasked with withdrawing money from Thai ATMs using mobile banking apps, without using an ATM card, and then delivering the money to the mastermind at the Mae Sai border checkpoint.

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They were paid 300 to 500 baht each time and had been operating for a month, withdrawing amounts ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 baht. The most recent withdrawal, on October 15, was for 104,000 baht. It is believed the total amount withdrawn is close to one million baht.

The crime network differs from call centre gangs as it involves selling discounted IT products.

Mule accounts

The masterminds are believed to be based across the border, hiring people to open mule accounts near the border for easy control.

The first set of mule accounts were opened online while the second to fourth sets involved local youths to maintain control.

The page admins who were involved in the fraudulent sales are believed to be Thais who crossed the border to commit the crime from across the border, as their IP addresses are based in Myanmar reported KhaoSod.

Pol. Lt. Chaiyaphon revealed that investigations are ongoing to gather evidence and expand the results. It is yet to be determined whether there are additional masterminds beyond the Myanmar national receiving the money.

Even if the foreigners are in neighbouring countries, the police will issue an arrest warrant and request an Interpol Red Notice to seek Myanmar police cooperation in tracking them down and prosecuting them.

For this operation, five suspects have been arrested in total. They are expected to be remanded in custody in court by Sunday, October 22.

As for the mule account recruiter who was arrested, Warisara Jantra has already proceeded with her case in Chiang Rai province. The crime of using mule accounts falls under the Act on Prevention and Suppression of Computer-related Crime, B.E. 2566.

Meanwhile, Siriporn Lamphee, the second mule account owner, who had a warrant issued for her earlier, is still on the run.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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