Thai police say there were over 400 reports of romance scams last month. Royal Thai Police (RTP) said yesterday that 403 police reports in January 2023 were related to love frauds, resulting in substantial financial losses of over 190 million baht.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and RTP is now urging the public to be aware of the issue of romance scams, mainly targeting women in their 40s.
According to RTP spokesperson Noppawan Panya, the 403 police reports nationwide included 168 cases of victims being deceived into transferring money to scammers and 235 cases of victims being lured into a fraudulent investment. The strategies that scammers used included:
- Creating fake hope or sympathy
- Luring victims into a fake investment
- Tricking victims into clicking a link or downloading an app that gave the scammer remote access to the victim’s smartphone
- Blackmailing or sextortion.
The spokesperson warned the public to be cautious when encountering strangers on social media, advising them to never click links, download apps, or send photos to strangers as they may be scammers. Usually, the fraudsters will create a fake account with an attractive profile picture and use excuses such as medical bills, travel expenses, or gift-sending fees to trick their victims.
In response to this alarming issue, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the Thai Royal Police to crack down on cybercrime, including romance scams, under the campaign “Stop Walk Talk.” If one feels or is uncertain that they are being scammed, they are urged to call the 1441 hotline or 08-1866-300 immediately. The public can also report such incidents online via the Thai Police Online website, The Pattaya News reported.
Most victims of romance scams in Thailand are reported to be women in their 40s. Middle-aged women are the main targets of criminal gangs who prey on those who have taken the questionable step of seeking true love online.
Last week, a former Thai lawyer was arrested for alleged involvement in a romance scam. The investigation was sparked after a victim approached national police chief, Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, claiming she had been defrauded of 1.51 million baht in a romance scam. The victim had met the suspect, who introduced himself as “Tom” or “Thanet” on the Bumble dating app, with a good-looking profile picture.
After chatting online, the suspect exploited the victim’s depression by demanding that she have sexual relations with his father, who is also a suspect under investigation if she wanted to continue the relationship. The two then met at a hotel in tambon Sam Rong Nua between January 6-19. The victim was lured into investing in exchange scams and also instructed to sell her car to fund further investments.
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