DSI officers and Thailand Post executives said the gang’s boiler-room callers worked from printed scripts. Manop Sornviboonsak, vice-president of Thailand Post, said the post office never calls to inform customers of waiting packages. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Eighteen Thai and seven Taiwanese nationals have been arrested in a major crackdown on a call centre gang that has conned more than 10,000 victims out of over 200 million baht.
The suspects were detained after a series of operations were jointly carried out, both in Thailand and Taiwan, by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Taiwanese Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB), Pol Col Songsak Raksaksakul, deputy chief of the DSI, said Wednesday.
From last November until this Monday, 7,645 people have called Thailand Post’s hotline (No.1554) and over 3,000 people have rung individual branches to enquire about undelivered parcels they were told belonged to them, he said.
The gang led them to believe they had undelivered parcels waiting for them and persuaded them to transfer money to bank accounts to collect their so-called packages, Pol Col Songsak added.
The gang used voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology so the calling numbers appeared to be those of state agencies including the DSI and Thailand Post, he said.
The gang members travelled back and forth between Thailand and Taiwan, prompting the DSI to seek the MJIB’s cooperation, he said.
Crackdowns in Taiwan’s Taichung and Miaoli were conducted on Sept 20-25, during which scripts of the conversations used by the gang were seized along with computers and other communication devices, he added.
Among the 25 suspects detained during the raids in Taiwan are a Thai woman identified as Thanyawan Wongphakdi and a Thai man who has been identified as Natthasit Samtakhu.
They earned over 100,000 baht a month to find people who would likely be susceptible to the scam, said Pol Col Songsak.
Manop Sornviboonsak, vice-president of Thailand Post, said there is no policy of having staff call customers to inform them of undelivered parcels.
Also Wednesday, Thai police said they have busted another scam by arresting Jocob Holm Schultz, 43, from Denmark, who was wanted on fraud charges under a warrant dated April 28, said Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakphal, acting deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau.
Prior to his arrest, Thai police received complaints from a number of payment gateway companies — and many foreign tourists, mostly from Europe — who were lured into paying for hotel room bookings via www.vacasianhotel.com.
This turned out to be an online scam operated by Mr Schultz and a Thai female accomplice identified as Janthi Lomsak, 36, along with four other Thai suspects, Pol Maj Gen Surachet said.
In recent years the gang has successfully conned over 400 tourists out of more than 20 million baht, he said.
Mr Schultz, who was arrested in the car park of a department store in Nonthaburi, has been staying in Thailand on a tourist visa, Maj Gen Surachet added.