Fake abduction ransom scams target Thailand university students

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

University students in Thailand have been coerced into participating in an intricate scam operation, revolving around filming fake abduction videos. The intention was for these videos to be sent to the student’s parents as a means to extort ransom money. The case emerged when a student from the Lat Krabang district was entrapped in the same scheme, resulting in a rescue operation on August 7.

The shady operation is suspected to be coordinated by a gang based in call centres located in Myanmar and Cambodia. These allegations were put forth by Police Major General Panthana Nuchanart, deputy commissioner of Thailand’s Immigration Bureau (IB) and leader of the first Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) team.

Elaborating on the fake abduction scam incident, Panthana revealed that the scammers had first contacted the unsuspecting victim, a third-year student from a university in the Bang Khen district of Bangkok. This individual was told that they were communicating with Thailand Post Office staff located in Songkhla province, where her bank passbook was allegedly discovered.

The passbook had supposedly been linked to money-laundering activity and was found amid 12 passports from Myanmar, nine ATM cards and a total of eight bank passbooks. The scammers used this fraudulent narrative to convince the student to file a report with Songkhla police.

As the student could not travel to the province herself, the scammer introduced another cohort, pretending to be the superintendent of the Songkhla Police Station. The student was asked if considerable sums of money had been received in her account, leading her to discover a transaction worth 13,000 baht from an unknown source on the same day, reported Bangkok Post.

Panthana further recounted that fake documents bearing the student’s ID and full name were produced by the scammers, providing pseudo-validation to their police impersonation. Under the guise of potential implication in the alleged money-laundering case, the student was directed to switch her phone number, vacate her residence to check into a hotel in the Rangsit area in Pathum Thani and erase her presence on social media platforms.

The student was later told to record herself as if she had been kidnapped, with her hands and ankles bound with duct tape. This footage was, subsequently, forwarded to her mother as a method of deception, leading her to believe her daughter had been taken hostage.

After the authorities arrived at the fake abduction scene and rescued the student, the scammers abruptly ended their communication. Later investigations suggested that the scammers were likely operating from Thachikek, Myanmar.

A similar scenario unfolded on Friday, where another student from Lat Krabang district was ensnared by the same deceitful tactics. However, in this case, the transaction history of her bank accounts was exploited, and a ransom worth 3 million baht was demanded under the false pretence that the student was being held hostage, and severe physical harm would ensue if the amount was not deposited.

Crime NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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