PHUKET TOWN: Nine people were arrested yesterday in a series of raids by police from Phuket and Bangkok on people offering cheap phone calls. The raids on the phone call kiosks – small tables offering calls to anywhere in Thailand for 2 baht a minute – were part of a joint taskforce operation to crack a criminal ring using forged ID cards to buy mobile phones. The operation was instigated following a complaint lodged in Pathumwan by mobile phone company Total Access Communication PLC, better known as DTAC, against Pranee Tasungnern, 26, from Samut Prakan, and a number of other people who, DTAC claimed, had not paid their mobile phone bills. K. Pranee and others named in the complaint rejected DTAC’s claims, saying they had not bought mobile phones. Further checks revealed that the phones had been bought using copies of their ID cards with the photos changed. Pol Capt Cherdpong Chewpreecha from Phuket Town Police Station, a member of the taskforce, told the Gazette that phone company records showed that calls using the phones in question were being made from Phuket. “We thought it unlikely that ordinary people would fake ID cards, and that it was more likely that gangsters would do it to make money,” Capt Cherdpong said. “That’s why we raided the mobile phone kiosks.” At nine of the kiosks raided, police discovered forged copies of ID cards, including K. Pranee’s. All nine kiosk attendants told the police that they had been hired by a group of three people to run the stalls. The three would come once month to collect the takings, they said, less 30-40% commission for the attendants. Yesterday, six of the nine were taken to Pathumwan Police Station, while two were taken to Rayong, where the ringleader is believed to be, to aid further investigations. One remains in Phuket. All nine face forgery charges.
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