Police have again warned the Thai public not to fall victim to a “call-centre scam” in which criminals posing as officials accuse them of crimes and demand money be wired via an ATM system “for inspection”.
The latest warning, by Pol Colonel Krit Osathapan of Phunphin precinct in Surat Thai province, followed a new case in which a retired civil servant in Phunphin district was this week duped to wire Bt400,000 to the fraudster. The fortunate target realised she was making a mistake as he transferred the money and contacted police in time to prevent loss of the large sum.
Krit commended retiree Wajira Klabrin, 60, for telling her full story to reporters on Thursday night about her ordeal the previous day, in the hope that it could serve as a cautionary tale for others.
Wajira recalled that a male fraudster, claiming to be a police captain in a drug suppression team, accused her over the phone of being a member of a drug-dealing gang and demanded that she wire money “for inspection”.
The retiree said the fraudster also knew that she drove a Toyota Fortuner car and threatened to impound it as part of the investigation, which convinced her to wire the money in six batches to a bank account as the imposter instructed. At the last minute, she realised this might be a fraud and called a police friend who told her it was a scam and quickly arranged for her to file a complaint and freeze the account in the nick of time before the fraudster could withdraw the money.
The police probe found that the bank account in question belonged to a Myanmar worker. Police are investigating whether the person was hired to open the account for a gang or was involved in this for other reasons, said Krit.
In related news, the Office of the Judiciary’s Facebook page posted a warning on Thursday urging people to share with others in a bid to prevent a similar fraud. The office said that another approach has surfaced in which fraudsters deliver a fake court warrant accusing the target of a drug-related or money-laundering crime. They demand the target submit “for inspection” personal documents including land-title deeds, and bank account information which is then used to dupe the victim into wiring money.
The office said a real court warrant would not request a person to submit personal information nor demand that be wired to anyone. If people wondered about the authenticity of court warrants they received, they should contact the Office of the Judiciary’s branch offices. If people have already wired the money to a gang, they could call the Anti-Money Laundering Office's hotline 1710 to free the wired money, according to the Facebook page.