Online scams surge in Thailand warns Central Investigation Bureau

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

A surge in online scams, driven by the significant increase in internet-based activities, is anticipated to continue throughout this year, warned Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) commissioner Jirabhop Bhuridej. The CIB’s analysis of cybercrime, as reported by the Royal Thai Police (RTP), indicated that over 400,000 cases were logged between March 1 and November 30 of last year.

Misleading operations involving counterfeit or below-standard goods and services were the most common, comprising 40.8% of cases. However, it was fraudulent investment schemes that resulted in the greatest financial loss, with over 16 billion baht (US$461,494,080) reported missing.

Figures between November 2022 and November 2023 indicated that online scams remained consistent, with around 21,000 cases reported each month. The CIB commissioner highlighted this data as evidence of the persistent threat from online scams and an urgent need for preventative measures.

Addressing cybercrime presents a challenging task due to the advanced tools employed by criminals to commit their crimes and hide their identities. This includes the likes of SIM boxes and Voice over IP (VoIP), which hampers the efforts of law enforcement agencies.

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In addition, investigators face further obstacles, including the border locations of many scam operations, complex multinational criminal networks, and jurisdiction issues due to the borderless nature of online crime.

In response, the Anti-Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC) has established the 1441 hotline, a collaborative initiative involving banks, Internet service providers, the police, and telecom regulators. This proactive effort aims to improve coordination, manage databases, and enhance information sharing.

Police upskilling

The police are also leveraging technology for complaint handling, intelligence gathering, and crime pattern analysis, reported Bangkok Post.

The CIB commissioner also underlined the importance of police upskilling to handle evolving threats such as cryptocurrency, the dark web, and deep fakes. As part of the AOC, he has been assigned to establish a working panel in collaboration with other agencies to devise strategies for countering cybercrime.

Despite the focus on online scams, violent crimes such as mass shootings also pose serious concerns. The CIB has taken steps to prepare schools and private companies for such incidents. In addition, the agency has teamed up with the Police General Hospital to assess and treat the mental health of its staff due to the demanding nature of their work.

The CIB has also been working to improve its data collection and become a data-driven agency. Together with the Thailand Institute of Justice, the CIB is developing a comprehensive crime database. The International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes, a UNODC model, will provide a robust framework for producing criminal justice statistics.

The commissioner concluded with caution, emphasising that while technology allows criminals to target individuals from anywhere, the public can defend themselves through knowledge and vigilance.

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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