Taiwanese “bank account mule’ arrested in Patong

PHUKET: Police have arrested a Taiwanese man who was found in the illegal possession of bankbooks and ATM cards for 12 Thai bank accounts opened by local residents.

Chen Yu-Chung, 34, was arrested on Saturday, after a tip-off from a Phuket tuk-tuk driver, who told police that he was paid 6,000 baht to open a bank account in Patong.

“The 47-year-old tuk-tuk driver, Suwaroj Kaebutr, said that he had heard of this type of thing before,” said Col Sutthichai Tianpho of the Patong Police.

“He said it didn’t feel right, and that he had heard of foreign criminal gangs paying local people to open bank accounts for them.”

Mr Suwaroj met Mr Chen last Thursday and handed over the bankbook and ATM card for the account he was paid to open. Police observed the transaction from a distance.

“Our officers followed Mr Chen to Aloha Villa, where he was staying. We took him into custody after he had checked out on Saturday. He was about to get into a taxi and go to the airport,” Col Sutthichai said.

Police found the bankbooks and ATM cards for the 12 accounts in Mr Chen’s suitcase.

“Mr Chen confessed that he was hired by people in Taiwan to come to Patong and pay local people 5,000 to 7,000 baht each to open a bank account,” Col Sutthichai said.

“Mr Chen said that he didn’t know what bank accounts were to be used for.”

Mr Chen was charged under Section 269/5 of the Thai Criminal Code, which states: “Whoever uses the electronic card of other person wrongfully in a manner likely to cause detriment of other person or people, such person shall be punished imprisonment not more than five years or fined not more than 100,000 baht or both.”

“He is being detained at the Patong Police Station while we continue our investigation,” Col Sutthicahi said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News
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