DSI takes action against Thana Thamthai pyramid scheme
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith yesterday completed an investigation into the Thana Thamthai pyramid scheme, in which up to 12,000 people living in the North were duped of about Bt30 million, while police arrested the company executives in Pathum Thani yesterday.At the DSI's northern office, Tarit met 50 representatives of the 880 victims from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Lampang who had filed complaints with the DSI, leading to an investigation being launched on January 25.
Supradit Panyasuriyachote, one of the representatives, said the victims were invited in May last year to join the Thana Thamthai coop that reportedly dealt with direct sales of cooking oil and health products. Bombarded by online ads and seminars, the coop members were told that they would be entitled to a loan of Bt100,000 and another Bt100,000 in funeral assistance if they joined. Hence, the victims joined the coop and paid the Bt2,650 membership fee, while many also bought 5,000 shares for Bt50,000 in order to become a "stock kits" line leader in order to earn Bt300 commission for every new member. After becoming members, the coop did what it promised - paid Bt30,000 to members who completed three months, Bt50,000 for those who completed six months, and Bt100,000 for those who stayed 12 months.
Months later, the founder Nakanok Thurakij called a board meeting and convinced the members to change the cooperative into a company, claming that several issues would become more efficient and loans would be more easily approved, Supradit said. Hence, the members agreed to change the coop to Thana Thamthai Network Co Ltd with Nakanok being given the authority to act on the company's behalf and create a partnership firm called "Teun Dai Ngern Saen" or Wake up to Get Bt100,000, in order to lure more members and hold seminars in several provinces, he added.
After that, the company stopped making payments to members. There are about 1,000 members in Chiang Mai's Fang district alone who have not been paid, Supradit said. He also claimed that Nakanok threatened members that they would not get anything if they filed a complaint with the police, hence many people feel as if they were duped into filing complaints with the DSI.
Tarit said initial investigation showed that the coop used direct sales as a cover-up, because members did not get to sell any products and the coop was not registered legally and hence its actions were within the ambit of public fraud.