A JOINT operation by the Thai police and US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Secret Service smashed a call centre gang operating from Thailand that has defrauded American citizens out of over US$3 billion, Naewna newspaper said this afternoon (Mar. 21).
National Police Chief Pol. Gen. Damrongsak Kittipraphat together with Pol. Gen. Torsak Sukvimol, the deputy national police chief; Pol. Lt. Gen. Worawat Watnakhonbancha, head of Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau; Pol. Maj. Gen. Warisiri Leelasiri, head of Immigration Bureau Division 3; Pol. Maj. Gen. Kampol Leelaprapaporn, Chonburi provincial police chief and the FBI and US Secret Service team had led raids on 36 targeted locations in four provinces – Chonburi, Rayong, Samut Prakan and Roi Et.
The key location is a single-storey house in Nong Prue subdistrict, Bang Lamung district, Chonburi province, where vital evidence was found including a large number of bank accounts, more than 10 mobile phones, four vehicles and a firearm plus ammunition.
An Indian man and three Thai women were rounded up for interrogation.
Pol. Gen. Torsak said this joint operation was mounted to crackdown on transnational crime after the FBI and US Secret Service had alerted Thai police that American citizens had been scammed by a call centre gang.
These gangsters pretended to be FBI agents and scared the victims by telling them that abnormal transactions had been detected in their bank accounts and also that these accounts had been linked to criminal activity.
Most of the victims are elderly, over 60 years of age, and over the past two years 365 of them had been scammed out of over $3 billion altogether.
As international money transfers had been made with Thailand used as the base, Pol. Gen. Damrongsak was alerted and he ordered an investigation that led to the big crackdown.
The Deputy Police Chief added that transnational crime is a major threat and the police attach importance to tackling it with all agencies told to step up control and prevent foreign gangs from entering Thailand and surreptitiously carrying out criminal activity here.
Investigation is being expanded in cooperation with the Anti-Money Laundering Office which will be tracing the financial routes so as to seize the assets of this gang. Pol. Gen. Damrongsak will be summarising the results of this operation at a press conference taking place at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
The suspects arrested from a house in Nong Prue subdistrict being questioned by the police. Photo: Naewna