Five people including three men and two women were arrested ranging in ages from 24 to 59 years old. Crime Suppression Division officers presented evidence to the court and obtained arrest warrants which were executed on Thursday. The victim was told that one loan was to buy a New Years present for Deputy Prime Minster Prawit Wongsuwan.
A number of fraudsters were arrested by Crime Suppression Division police in raids across Bangkok on Thursday by police investigating the case of a 79-year-old retired engineer who was defrauded out of ฿239 million by a gang who impersonated Thai army chief General Apirat Kongsompong and other high ranking officials. They hoodwinked the man into handing over large loans of money which were never repaid.
Crime Suppression police officers in Bangkok have announced the arrest of five people in connection with a series of financial confidence tricks and swindles on a rich 79-year-old retired engineer which left the man out of pocket for ฿239 million.
In the course of the frauds, which ran from 2012 to 2017, the Bangkok based man was contacted by members of the swindle gang falsely purporting themselves to be the secretary-general of the Anti Money Laundering Office and the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Apirat Kongsompong.
Crime Suppression Division officers gave a press conference in Bangkok on Friday
Details of the swindle schemes were revealed by the deputy chief of the crime suppression police in Bangkok, Police Colonel Anek Taosuparb. The policeman presented a series of charts to explain the complex interactions which all involved 79-year-old Narit Sarnsak who became the mark of the fraudsters because of his trusting nature.
Raids on three separate venues on Thursday – five suspects arrested and taken into custody
Five people, including three men and two men, were arrested in police swoops which took place in Bangkok this Thursday on three separate venues.
This followed evidence presented to a criminal court where warrants were obtained. All five are being held in police custody while legal proceedings are being processed against them.
The suspects have been named as 59-year-old Apichart Insawang, 56-year-old Thotsaphol Thasaphonsakul, 37-year-old Pakorn Krungsri, 58-year-old Patcharaporn Traichakpranee and 24-year-old Phattraporn Mankit.
4 suspects charged with collusion in public fraud
All of those arrested except for 24-year-old Ms Phattraporn, have been charged with collusion in public fraud. The younger woman has been charged with colluding with others to appropriate documents belonging to the 79-year-old victim in such a way as to cause him harm.
Thursday’s arrests follow a complaint made by Mr Narit to police in mid-2019.
Swindle began in 2012 with a loan to 59-year-old Mr Apichart whose funds had been frozen
The activity began in 2012 when Mr Narit was approached and befriended by 59-year-old Mr Apichart.
He had been introduced by a contact in the real estate business who had alerted Mr Apichart to the fact that Mr Narit was a wealthy man.
This led to a request by Mr Apichart to borrow ฿15 million. The younger man told the former engineer that his bank accounts had been frozen due to a criminal enquiry.
He proposed to borrow ฿15 million as he fought a legal case to have his name cleared and his funds released.
Both men entered into a loan agreement and the money was paid over to Mr Apichart.
Bounced cheques handed to Mr Narit in 2015
In 2015, with the loan still not repaid, Mr Narit insisted that the matter be settled.
Instead, he received cheques from his debtor which were incapable of being honoured when he lodged them to his account.
Then, Mr Apichart claimed that although he had won his court case, there was now some issue with the Anti Money Laundering Office to be set straight.
Phone call from a person claiming to be the Secretary-General of the Anti Money Laundering Office
This led the 79-year-old man to receive a mysterious phone call from a man purporting to be the secretary-general of the Anti Money Laundering Office in Thailand.
The caller, again falsely, claimed to be AMLO Secretary-General Police Colonel Seehanat Prayoonrat. The caller explained that he could assist their mutual contact Mr Apichart in having his money released.
Police on Friday emphasised that the caller in this instance was not Police Colonel Seehanat but an accomplice of Mr Apichart in the crime.
Further loan of ฿34 million given to what Mr Narit thought was a top crime-fighting official
The interaction between Mr Narit and the fraudster holding himself out as the head of a key anti-crime agency, resulted in Mr Narit advancing a further loan for ฿34 million.
The caller, purporting to be the AMLO boss, explained that he needed help in arranging a career promotion as he was due to be moved soon to a new position.
Money required to buy a promotion
In Thailand, it is common to hear claims that public offices and positions can be bought or inducements offered to superiors to achieve a promotion or swing a decision.
On this basis of this, the older man again believed what he was told and loaned a further ฿34 million in the hope that all would be well with his first loan and that he was assisting a senior official with the second loan.
Gang move in for a bigger payday with a higher ranking personage – the Thai army boss
But this was not the end of the swindle, indeed it was only beginning.
Having seen how successful the ruse of purporting to be a senior and powerful official worked on Mr Narit, a new charade was set up seeking an even bigger payday from the man with an even bigger lie.
Another suspect in the gang contacted Mr Narit purporting to be no less a figure than the Commander and Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Apirat Kongsompong.
Confidence built through a series of pleasant phone calls before a ฿100 million loan was sought
There were several confidence-building phone calls and pleasantries which lulled the retiree into a false sense of security. Then they struck again.
A loan was quested for ฿100 million. The purpose of the loan was to purchase a New Year’s gift for another official of the highest rank, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. The loan was agreed and paid over.
Valuable documents were taken – total financial loss of ฿239 million suffered by the aged retiree
There followed even more requests and transactions involving land titles deeds of Mr Narit.
In all, the pensioner was defrauded out of ฿239 million and title documents were taken from him with the promise of bumper profits in profitable deals when they were sold on.
Full briefing on the entangled swindle was given by Crime Suppression Division officers on Friday
The details of the transactions were outlined in full by CSD Deputy Chief Police Colonel Ansket on Friday.
It is understood that police have retrieved some of the title documents belonging to the retiree but there is no definitive word yet on the funds taken from him.
In the course of Thursday’s extensive police operations, assets were seized and impounded including valuable cars and bank accounts frozen.
On Friday, police revealed that Mr Apichart, Ms Patcharaporn and Mr Thotsaphol had categorically denied all charges against them.
Mr Pakorn and Ms Phattaraporn told police that they were aware of some of the circumstances as outlined but that they were not participants in any conspiracy to defraud the retired engineer.