The call for victims to file reports of how much money they lost came today as police announced the arrest of a Dutch national for operating the scam.
The Dutchman, named today by police only as “Mr Wesley”, was taken into custody at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok last Thursday night (Feb 11), said Lt Gen Kanchai Khlaikhleung of the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB).
‘Mr Wesley’ was with his Finnish wife and daughter when he was arrested, Lt Gen Kanchai explained to a press conference held at the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok today (Feb 15).
“The Shopping Mall scheme had 30 ‘groups’ called ‘All Star’ with about 500 members in each group. Each member had to invest at least B1,000. Some people had invested about B200,000,” Lt Gen Kanchai said.
“At this stage, about 1,000 people have identified themselves as victims. Many of them came with tears on their faces, as they had spent all of their savings on this investment,” he added.
“Most of the victims are living in Phuket and on Koh Samui. Some of them understood well how the scheme worked, some just wanted to try it, some had no idea that it was a ponzi scheme,” he said.
‘Every day, there was some trading through the app, and everyone got some interest and thought that this was an investment,” Lt Gen Kanchai explained.
“Mr Wesley monitored the app every day at about 11am and invited people to join the scheme. Applications to join the scheme opened in October last year,” he said.
“All of the money invested in the scheme had been transferred into 44 accounts in four banks in a neighbouring country,” he added.
Lt Gen Kanchai did not explain that the investigation into the ‘Shopping Mall’ scam began after victims filed complaints with the police.
Instead, today he explained, “This investigation into the ‘Shopping Mall’ scam began after a Facebook ‘Live’ post on the “Hod Jang Jangwat Phuket” Facebook page.
“Then there was a cooperation between Phuket Provincial Police and Region 8 Police,” Lt Gen Kanchai said.
The Phuket Provincial Court issued a warrant of arrest for ‘Mr Wesly’ on Feb 11, he added.
“The man, his wife and child were about to flee the country. If they could get out of the country, about B100 million would have gone with them, as they had already transferred it to the banks in a neighbouring country,” Lt Gen Kanchai noted.
“We cooperated with Immigration officers to keep an eye on them after they took a flight from Phuket to Bangkok,” Lt Gen Kanchai explained.
“They were waiting to get on a flight by KLM. The man knew well that he was being observed, so he let his wife and child check-in for the flight first,” he added.
“As the wife and child were on the Immigration watchlist, when they checked-in, officers immediately knew that they were fleeing the country, then immigration officers eventually moved in and arrested him,” Lt Gen Kanchai said.
Another officer at the press conference today explained the Dutchman was living in Kathu, in Phuket, before attempting to flee the country.
“Then he and his Finnish wife and daughter flew to Bangkok on Feb 9,” the officer said.
“They came to Suvarnabhumi airport on Feb 11 in order to take a KLM flight that was scheduled to fly to the Netherlands at 30 minutes pass midnight,” he added.
“We checked the flight info and then moved in to arrest him. Then we took him back to Phuket to be prosecuted by Phuket City Police,” the officer explained.
The Dutchman arrested is just the tip of the iceberg, the officer noted.
“The Dutchman was the main admin [for the ‘Shopping Mall’ app], while there were about 40 other admins in total,” he said.
Police were now tracking down the remaining administrators, he added.
Lt Gen Kanchai urged all victims of the scheme to file reports of how much money they lost to the scam via a Google Form. (Click here.)
“All victims of this ponzi scheme do not come to Bangkok to inform us by yourselves. Please enter your information in the Google form,” Lt Gen Kanchai said.
“After we receive your information, CCIB officers will call you later to make an appointment for you to present yourself at your local police station in your area,” he added.
“Last but not least, I want to remind people to do two things: 1) Think; and 2) Check,” Lt Gen Kanchai said.
“Everything can be checked by a search on the internet. Don’t believe everything too quickly, please check first,” he urged.