Agencies unite to fight rising call centre scams

Agencies unite to fight rising call centre scams

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is joining hands with commercial banks and telecom providers to open a centre to deal with call centre scam cases.

Romsit: Targeting fraudsters

The centre, which opened yesterday, marks the collaboration of 36 commercial banks, five telecom operators, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the Credit Card Club, said Pol Maj Gen Romsit Weeriyasan, acting secretary-general of Amlo.

Its main objective is to help prevent people from falling prey to call centre scams, which have been on the rise in recent years, and assist authorities in tracking down and arresting wrongdoers.

The financial losses from such scams amount to 100 million baht over the last four years, police said, giving what it called a conservative estimate. Since 2013, 149 people have filed complaints with Amlo.

Pol Maj Gen Romsit said he expects the centre to help out with more complicated variations of such scams.

With the help of commercial banks, credit card providers and telecom operators, the DSI and police can get more help in tracking financial transactions, he said.

One of the centre’s highlights is its hotline service. People can call 1710 to report dubious activity or file a complaint.

After it receives a complaint the centre can place an order asking a commercial bank to freeze the money in any related bank accounts immediately so that transactions can be traced.

“If efforts to stop them withdrawing money can’t be done in time, victims will need to wait until arrests are made and the suspects’ assets seized,” he said.

Pol Maj Gen Romsit said call centre scam are becoming increasingly complex, with Thais and foreigners both operating them, often in cahoots with domestic and transnational crime networks.

Commercial banks will be asked to help monitor suspicious bank accounts, he said.

“These kind of scams have their own unique characteristics. There’s usually a bank account involved with a record of unusually quick and frequent transactions,” said Pol Maj Gen Romsit.

The centre is also aided by telecom providers in monitoring phone numbers to track the location of the scammers.

“If any accounts are found to be linked to criminal gangs, legal action will be brought against the individuals and their networks,” he said.

Amlo, the Royal Thai Police and the Department of Special Investigation will work together on such investigations and law enforcement, he added.

Citing past supreme court rulings, he said anyone who supported call centre gangs by opening bank accounts for them could face money laundering charges, which carry a jail term of up to 10 years.