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Thai authorities bust US$33M online gold scam, detain 6 Chinese nationals and 20 Thai accomplices

On Tuesday, the Royal Thai Police revealed their bust of a 1.2 billion baht (equivalent to US$33.1 million) online gold investment scam, involving six Chinese nationals and 20 Thai accomplices.

The scheme lured victims through fake Facebook pages, promising extravagant returns of 20 to 30%.

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BANGKOK, THAILAND: Royal Thai Police disclosed on Tuesday (31 Oct) that they had disrupted an online gold investment scam valued at 1.2 billion baht (equivalent to US$33.1 million).

Orchestrated by six Chinese nationals and aided by 20 Thai individuals, the perpetrators utilized Facebook to promote a non-existent gold investment scheme, enticing unsuspecting victims with unrealistic promises of a 20 to 30% high return.

As reported by Thai media, Thai’s Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) investigators conducted raids across 21 locations in Bangkok and seven other provinces, resulting in the apprehension of 26 suspects and the seizure of assets worth 30.9 million baht.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Operation Chief Col Thirapas Yungyuen stated that searches were conducted at eight locations in Bangkok, six in Tak, two in Pathum Thani, and one each in Samut Prakan, Chon Buri, Surin, and Chaiyaphum.

During the raids, police confiscated digital currency accounts totalling 28 million baht on Biktub, Thai’s digital assets exchange platform; 23 bank books, 21 mobile phones, 19 SIM cards, 100,000 baht in cash, and eight notebook computers.

According to the police, the gang was led by four identified Chinese nationals, namely Aixia Liu, 48, Long Huabiao, 38, Yangfeng Xiao, 29, and Liang Wang, 28, alongside a Thai woman, Sakuna Chansuk, 44. However, the remaining two Chinese individuals involved have not yet been named.

Allegedly, the group utilized fake Facebook pages named “Aurora Gold Trading” to lure in unsuspecting investors.

The group operated in a systematic manner, with distinct responsibilities assigned for various tasks, including the creation of fake Facebook pages, engaging with and deceiving victims, managing transfers through mule accounts, and money laundering.

Promising high returns of 20 to 30%, they eventually blocked victims from the pages when they were unable to withdraw their investments. Numerous individuals fell victim to the deception, Col Thirapas revealed.

The police added that Thai accomplices were hired by the Chinese ringleaders to establish three nominee companies to aid in the laundering process.

The gang employed three layers of bank accounts owned by Thai nationals before ultimately transferring funds to accounts controlled by the Chinese leaders.

Initially, the gang would purchase various commodities, including items like fertilizer, air-conditioners, and auto parts. These products were then exported to Laos and Cambodia through a nominee company.

In addition, they utilized a separate firm to procure digital currencies via Bitkub, and another entity was involved in acquiring properties within Thailand.

Col Thirapas disclosed that approximately 1.2 billion baht circulated among the three companies.

While most suspects denied the charges, some admitted to their involvement in the crimes, according to the official.

CIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jiraphop Phuridej explained that while call-center gangs typically operate from neighboring countries to target Thai nationals, this particular gang conducted their operations within Thailand, primarily utilizing the internet for deception rather than traditional phone methods.

He added that the CIB had been monitoring the movements of the four Chinese leaders for some time and discovered that they had frequently entered and left the country.

Furthermore, the Thai accomplices were primarily engaged as secretaries, nominee company directors, and holders of mule accounts.

Authorities are currently investigating whether the legal advisors of the three nominee companies were aware of the criminal activities.

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