PHUKET: Immigration officers are hunting for a Thai woman and three Nigerians wanted for scamming people in at least four provinces, including Phuket, in a confidence racket that so far has amounted to B280 million being moved through an account used for receiving payments from their victims.
The victim in Phuket was swindled out of more than B1.4 million, the Immigration Bureau has reported.
Immigration Region 1 Deputy Chief Col Phakaphong Sai-ubon broke the news at a press conference attended by Immigration Bureau chief Lt Gen Somphong Chingduang in Bangkok last Wednesday (June 3).
Col Phakaphong explained that Immigration officers were specifically investigating foreigners from Africa for scams operated through social media that invited people to join investment schemes or through which the scammers pretended to have affection for their victims, colloquially known as ‘romance scams’.
From questioning victims, officers were told that one particular group of scammers operating a fake call centre scheme told their victims that they would send expensive items to them, but required money to be transferred to them first to cover shipping costs, Col Phakaphong said.
Victims had transferred varying amounts ranging from B10,000 to more than B1 million, he added.
Col Phakaphong said that victims of the scam gang were all across the country. The victims the Immigration Bureau investigating officers identified were urged to file formal complaints at Wang Thonglang Police Station in Bangkok, Phuket City Police Station, Don Wan Police Station in Maha Sarakham and Bang Phli Police Station in Samut Prakan.
The victim in Phuket had transferred more than B1.4 million to the gang, Col Phakaphong said, without giving any description of the victim.
The officers’ investigation gained them a warrant to monitor a bank account that the gang was using, which allowed the officers to learn that transactions amounting to B280 million had been made through the account in the past year, he said.
The officers had now been issued a warrant to arrest four people wanted for their role in the ongoing scams, he added.
The four people comprised one Thai woman and three Nigerian nationals, he added, though he refrained from naming the suspects.
One of the three Nigerians had already fled the country before the arrest warrant was issued, Col Phakaphong noted.
At the press conference announcing the investigation into the scam gang last Wednesday, Immigration Bureau Chief Lt Gen Somphong presented B290,000 compensation for one of the victims, a woman.
No details were provided as to why the one woman received compensation, or whether other victims would receive similar consideration.