November 1, 2023
BANGKOK – Details of the bust were revealed at a Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) press conference on Tuesday.
CIB investigators raided 21 locations in Bangkok and seven other provinces, carrying arrest warrants for 50 suspects. They netted 26 of the suspects along with 30.9 million baht of assets.
Operation chief Col Thirapas Yungyuen said eight locations were searched in Bangkok, six in Tak, two in Pathum Thani, and one each in Samut Prakan, Chon Buri, Surin and Chaiyaphum.
The gang members allegedly used fake Aurora Gold Trading Facebook pages to deceive the public to invest. The pages promised high returns of 20 to 30%, but when the victims found they could not withdraw their money, the gang gave various excuses before blocking them from the pages. Numerous victims were deceived by the scam, Thirapas said.
The gang worked systematically, dividing responsibilities for buying and creating fake Facebook pages, posting deceiving posts, chatting and deceiving victims, receiving transfers from victims via mule accounts, and laundering money, he said.
The gang used three tiers of bank accounts owned by Thais before eventually transferring the money to accounts owned by the Chinese bosses, who would then launder it via three methods.
First, the gang bought goods such as fertilizer, air-conditioners, and auto parts, and used a nominee firm to export them to Laos and Cambodia.
They would use another firm to buy digital currencies via Bitkub, and another to buy properties in Thailand.
Thirapas said that 1.2 billion baht was in circulation between the three companies.
Most suspects had denied charges but some had partially confessed to crimes, he added.
Call-centre gangs usually operate in neighbouring countries to prey on Thais, but this gang operated in Thailand using the internet instead of phones to deceive victims, explained CIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jiraphop Phuridej.
He said the CIB had been monitoring the four Chinese bosses for some time and found they had been in and out of the country several times.
He said the Thai accomplices mostly worked as secretaries, nominee company directors and mule account holders.
Police are now investigating whether Thai legal advisors of the three nominee firms knew about the crimes.