Police issue warning over gambling gang

KATA: Police have issued a warning to the public to be on the lookout for a gang of Thai con artists who use a combination of flattery, threats, insults and drugged drinks to separate people from their money. The warning came after Narumon “Mai” Busaphanag, 34, from Bangkok, reported to police that the gang had subjected her to a five-hour ordeal during which they attempted, unsuccessfully, to extort money from her. K. Mai and her English husband have a real estate business. On Wednesday she was contacted by a gang member who claimed to be interested in property. He made an appointment to meet her and then drove her to a house near the Plub Pla restaurant, above Kata. K. Mai told the Gazette that the men were polite and well dressed, and wore expensive accessories. They came to the meeting in a BMW and a Mercedes Benz. One introduced himself as the president of a five-star resort in Phuket, and another as an architect with a well-known construction company. The others were the assistant to the “president”, and the driver. The four then tried to involve her in a simple gambling game: pick any number from one to ten. If you get the right number, you win, they told her. K. Mai had drunk a cup of coffee that they had served to her earlier, and began to feel dizzy. Realizing there was something very wrong, she tried to call her husband but could not get through on her mobile phone. For five hours, the men kept talking and trying to lure her into playing their game. She refused and declined all further offers of food or drink. The “president” became angry, K. Mai told the Gazette. He yelled at the others, “What kind of woman have you found for us? She has no style! She dresses worse than my dog!” Finally they drove K. Mai back home, but not before warning her that if she told anyone about the episode, they would kill her. She reported her ordeal to the police the following day. Pol Capt Jirasak Seamsak of Chalong Police station told the Gazette that there have recently been a number of similar incidents, but that none of the victims have been willing to testify against the extortionists. Pol Capt Anek Mongkol of Cherng Talay Police Station said that the descriptions of the gang members matched those of four men who had relieved a prawn farm owner of 115,000 baht at the end of October in a similar gambling “game”. He added that this kind of con works best with people “who are greedy and like gambling”, which was not the case with K. Mai. The gangsters are still at large.

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