War on online scams: Nearly 40,000 fraudulent accounts frozen

Photo courtesy of iStock via Mint

Since its establishment on November 1 last year, the Anti-Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC 1441) has waged a battle against cyber fraud, culminating in the freezing of 39,918 bank accounts, revealed Digital Economy and Society Minister Prasert Chantararuangthong.

Prasert disclosed that this drastic action was prompted by a deluge of 307,515 complaints received by AOC as of January’s conclusion.

Explaining the gravity of the situation, Prasert highlighted the prevalence of purchase scams, constituting 44.9% (17,954) of the frozen accounts, followed by fake job offers (13.3%), fake investment schemes (9.3%), loan sharks (8.4%), and extortion (6.2%). January alone witnessed the freezing of accounts amounting to 1.9 billion baht, reclaiming 56.7% of the 3.4 billion baht lost to scams.

Comparatively, the previous months’ efforts paled in comparison, with only 11% of the 11 billion baht lost to scammers recovered between March and September the previous year. The minister lauded the centre’s efficiency, citing a daily freezing rate of 500 accounts, each resolved within a mere 10 minutes.

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Expressing satisfaction with the outcomes, Prasert attributed the success to collaborative efforts involving the police, the Bank of Thailand, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, and mobile phone operators, reported The Nation.

However, amidst these triumphs, a new threat emerged as scammers began impersonating AOC officials on social media platforms, prompting a warning from the Anti-Fake News Centre. Emphasising the sole legitimate point of contact, the watchdog clarified that AOC can only be reached via the 1441 24-hour hotline and maintains no presence on social media or the internet.

In related news, 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.

In other news, a sophisticated scheme involving the use of counterfeit license plates on luxury vehicles has been thwarted by Thai highway police in a recent crackdown. A 41 year old woman was arrested for affixing a forged red license plate to a brand-new Bentley.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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