Royal project scam exposed with six arrests and 270 million baht loss

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

An illicit operation, exploiting the name of royal projects to defraud unsuspecting investors, has been exposed. Six individuals implicated in the scheme have been apprehended, with damages resulting from the con estimated at a staggering 270 million baht (US$7.6 million).

The arrests followed a comprehensive search operation spanning Bangkok, Lop Buri, Chachoengsao, Songkhla, and Nakhon Si Thammarat, confirmed Police Major General Phuthidej Boonkraphue, the commander of the Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECSD), on Tuesday. The investigation was triggered by complaints from eight victims who expressed their concerns to the ECSD’s sub-division 4 after discovering the projects they had invested in were non-existent and the fraudsters consistently deferred paying any dividends.

The suspects, ranging in age from 41 to 60 years old, were identified as Chayawan Kanthong, Wiroj Paehkongseng, Pitchaya Promwee, Singkhon Siriyotha, Kaikaew Channongwaeng, and the alleged ringleader, Jarudech Baibua. The Pathum Thani Provincial Court issued warrants for their arrest, with charges of colluding in loan fraud and misinforming through a computer system to the detriment of others.

The police seized numerous items during the arrest, including 54 passbooks, three luxury cars, 17 computers, five high-end handbags, two luxury wristwatches, one diamond ring, five cameras, 100 commemorative King’s birthday celebration coins, and four land title deeds in Phatthalung and Songkhla provinces. The cumulative value of these items exceeds 16 million baht.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Phuthidej elaborated on the scam, explaining how Chayawan, from April 2022 to July of the same year, masqueraded as the chairwoman of various foundations with royal patronage. She claimed to oversee 28 royal projects, convincing victims to invest a 75,000 baht (US$2,121) entry fee into each project. She promised unrealistically high returns, suggesting each investor would receive 13 million baht (US$367,647) within one year, reported Bangkok Post.

Furthermore, Chayawan stated that state agencies would subsidise the project with an additional 50 million baht (US$1.4 million). High-return investments were offered in various forms, according to Pol. Maj. Gen. Phuthidej. However, he clarified that the victims were unable to withdraw their alleged profits unless they paid an additional 10,000 baht (US$282) to unlock the account.

Lured by Line

Pol. Col. Chakkrit Sereebut, Deputy ECSD Chief, revealed that the investigation indicated that Jarudech directed Chayawan, a former insurance employee, to act as the supervisor of each royal project and lure victims into joining various LINE chat groups.

To substantiate their deception, the group would distribute images of supposed meetings held by each foundation. The scam successfully deceived over 900 individuals, resulting in losses amounting to 269 million baht (US$7.6 million).

Scammers struck in a variety of unexpected ways; Bumrungrad Hospital fought online impersonation and filed a complaint. Cyber police increased efforts to combat widespread fraud.

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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