PATONG: Two men are being held by police over a “black money” scam that cost three Thai victims a total of 330,000 baht. The arrested men, said to be from Liberia, in West Africa, were named as Anthony Brown, 27, and Christopher Alliston, 31. The classic scam involves promising a big pay-off in return for a “loan” to buy special chemicals to “wash” US dollars that have supposedly been dyed black by the US Government in order to take them out of circulation. The two men were nabbed in Patong on Tuesday by Pol Col Sanakorn Manmuang, Sub-inspector (Investigation), Pol Lt Ampol Chantakul, and other officers from Kathu Police Station. Lt Ampol named the three Thai victims as Somneuk, 32, a businessman in the Kamala area, Prawit, 41, and Preeda, 43. He told the Gazette that Brown and Alliston first built a relationship with K. Prawit in March. “K. Prawit said that he was shown by Anthony [Brown] how a chemical mix could be used to wash out the black dye on a few notes, which, when clean, were genuine 20-dollar notes. K. Prawit told his friend Preeda in Bangkok what he had seen.” Then K. Prawit was told that more chemical mix was needed to wash clean all 5,000 black notes and that the chemical mix cost 60,000 baht. In return for the money The Liberians promised to give half the notes to K. Prawit, so he borrowed 60,000 baht from K. Preeda to buy the mix. The victims told police that Brown and Alliston later said the chemical mix had been gone off and they needed a fresh mix that would cost 270,000 baht. “K. Prawit called K. Somneuk and told him. K. Somneuk gave him 270,000 baht to buy the mix,” Lt Ampol said. When the Liberians contacted K. Prawit again and said another 200,000 baht was needed, he became suspicious and contacted police. K. Prawit, K. Preeda, and K. Somneuk went with the police after arranging an appointment with the men in a room at the C&N Resort, Patong. The pair were arrested. Found in the room were a large aluminum suitcase containing 5,000 black “banknotes” the same size as US currency notes, a gallon of liquid chemical, one bag of powder, one bag of powdered milk and a receipt that carried the logo of the US Embassy. Brown and Alliston confessed, said Lt Ampol, and told police that their team leader was in Bangkok. Despite reports of the same scam being tried many times over the past few years, the men claimed it was the first time they had been involved in it in Thailand. Police continue to hunt for other members of the gang.
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