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Plastic scam

Preparation is everything, even in the criminal world. And that’s where a gang from Hong Kong came a cropper recently, when one of their number tried to buy mobile phone top-up cards worth a million baht using a suspiciously clean credit card. Although the card had a working magnetic strip, it lacked such basic information as a signature, account holder’s name and bank logo. In fact, it was just a blank piece of plastic. Wong Gok Pang and his Thai accomplice, Sanya Dornchai, were turned in to police by a shop owner who had talked them into coming back later in the day, telling them that he didn’t have cards worth a million baht in the shop at that time. He then called the police, telling them that a shifty-looking foreigner was trying to use a fake credit card. Shortly before the men were due to return to collect the cards, undercover police officers entered the shop, mingling with customers and admiring the selection of phones. When Mr Wong returned and presented the credit card in question, they arrested him and his Thai companion, startling customers in the busy Central Kad Suan Kaew shopping center in Chiang Mai. They searched the two men and found another 17 cards on Mr Wong – all similarly blank. Chiang Mai Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Jirut Prommobol told reporters that K. Sanya cracked under questioning, confessing that he had been hired to take Mr Wong to the mobile phone shop in return for a cut of the phone cards in payment. In the face of overwhelming evidence, Mr Wong also confessed, admitting that he and accomplices got the cards from friends in Hong Kong and that they had a group of Thais helping them to arrange “suitable” places to use the “credit” cards in Chiang Mai. Police reported that they had so far established that 16 card-holders had had their card details stolen, and that the other members of the gang were being sought. The gang had had a golden run up to that point; police confiscated fraudulently obtained goods worth some 18 million baht, and believe that the gang has more still stashed away. Gen Jirut went on to say that investigators would expand their inquiries to cover shops where the gang had successfully used the cards; the perceptive General said that he thought the shops must have been involved in the scam, as even the dopiest staffer should have noticed that there were something a bit odd about the cards. Praphan Sujarit, Deputy Manager of the Chiang Mai branch of Bangkok Bank, told reporters that credit card fraud has become highly sophisticated, especially in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia, where criminals have become expert at using high-tech equipment to steal the codes off people’s credit cards without being detected. “Business” is so good, he added, that it has spawned a secondary industry: underground schools training future con artists in the use of the latest technology.

This post was last modified on May 30, 2018 7:04 am

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