Siblings and family of a nun at the centre of a ฿10 million fraud case and being detained in Nakhon Pathom, have revealed she sold the family home from under them. They are now living in fear of being evicted after she convinced her 85-year-old mother to appoint her as a trustee over her affairs.
Police in Nakhon Pathom, on Wednesday, arrested a local nun known as Phraya Thammikkarat Inchaiya who ran a Buddhist meditation centre in the centre of the province after receiving at least 400 complaints linked with a ฿10 million fraud scheme. Three other nuns in the community were also being held after the Provincial Court issued a warrant for their arrest. It comes as the family and siblings of the 49-year-old nun, whose real name is Ms Isaree Inchaiya and who the local Provincial Buddhism Office claims is a mere laywoman, have revealed they are fighting to stave off eviction after Ms Isaree sold the family home to an investor unbeknown to them some years ago before setting off to study Dhamma and become a nun.
The head of the Provincial Buddhism Office, in Nakhon Pathom province in central Thailand, has issued a statement in which he denied that a 49-year-old woman who held herself out as a member of a religious community and who is at the centre of a Provincial Police enquiry into a ฿10 million fraud scheme, is a properly ordained nun.
Julasan Than-inart told the media, on Wednesday, that Isaree Inchaiya who goes by the name of Phraya Thammikarat Inchaiya and who appears to control the Phra Phutsikkhi Meditation Centre in the centre of Nakhon Pathom is simply an ordinary laywoman.
‘Nun’ taken into custody by police on Wednesday following an arrest warrant issued by provincial Court
Provincial Police, on Wednesday, led by Police Major General Thanachart Rodkhlongtan, took the middle-aged ‘nun’ into custody following the earlier arrest of two other members of the religious community named as 45-year-old Arunee Chanthanam and 31-year-old Pailin Sunthornsuwan.
A fourth woman is also understood to have been arrested by police and she has been named as 46-year-old Kitiyachai Sunikorn.
Fraud involved raising money to help the poor cope with the current Covid-19 crisis and promised returns
The fraud scheme involved an appeal by the nuns to local people to help the poor during the Covid-19 crisis by purchasing clothes or linen with the promise of a return for ‘making merit’ and helping the poor.
One victim of the scheme spoke to local Thai media this week and admitted that it was his own greed which led him to lose over ฿100,000 to the fundraising effort which senior police officers in Nakhon Pathom are saying was nothing but a classic pyramid scheme.
46-year-old local man initially got a return but ‘greed’ caused him to lose over ฿100,000 in the scam
46-year-old Kochakorn Wongsuwan, from the Tha Uthen District, revealed that he had initially outlaid ฿2,500 on the less expensive of two packages being promoted by the local nuns but later received a one baht piece of gold leaving him with a profit.
This led to him making the larger commitment without any return at all.
Nun defends herself as a ‘noble’ person to police and claims the money was used to benefit the poor
After her arrest on Wednesday, Ms Isaree confidently defended herself to police as they interrogated her over the alleged fraud scheme.
She told officers she was a noble person similar to any monk and that the money invested in the scheme was used for the benefit of the poor.
She claimed to have little attachment to money and promised that those who invested in the scheme and those who had ‘faith’ would be rewarded while others whose motivation was greed would not be.
Sing Buri monk denies any link with the fraud
Police in Nakhon Pathom also revealed that they discovered a 36-year-old monk from a community in Sing Buri province at the meditation centre used as a headquarters by the nuns and named him as Phra Chokchai Suphattho.
He denied any involvement with the nun’s scheme and was advised by police to return to his monastery.
Police apply to Nakhon Pathom Provincial Court to detain the arrested nuns as the investigation continues
Police also indicated that they would be applying to the courts for the continued detention of the ‘red robed’ nun Ms Isaree, also known popularly as ‘Nun Wu’, and the others arrested in connection with the financial scam as they suspect there may still be many more people who have yet to come forward.
At present, 400 people are reported to have filed formal complaints with Nakhon Pathom police.
Family of ‘Nun Wu’ reveal their own problems as they face eviction from their home after she sold it
As this was happening in the centre of Nakhon Pathom, members of the family of the 49-year-old nun were also making their story known to the media as they declined to intervene in the police case against her before the Provincial Court.
It is understood that the siblings of Ms Isaree are currently living in fear of eviction from their home after losing two legal battles against an investor who, it is understood, bought the title to the property after the nun sold it for ฿5 million without their knowledge.
The case is currently before the Supreme Court.
Sold the house and lands before heading off again to follow a religious life and the study of Dhamma
Nun Wu’s older sister, Ms Napa Inchaiya, explained the circumstances to the media.
She revealed her younger sister had, some decades ago, been married and that the marriage had failed, leaving her childless.
It is understood that in 2016 Ms Isaree’s older sister was an ordained nun.
She explained her sister returned home after her marriage broke up and that she, for a time, sold food and ran a grocery business before setting off again to study Dhamma or religious teaching.
However, this was after the younger sibling had somehow managed to get her 85-year-old mother to appoint her as a trustee which led to her selling the family property including land and a substantial home to the investor who is now claiming possession.