The case of Nicha Kiartthanapaiboon, who was jailed for three days after her lost ID card was used by a so-called romance scam network to open accounts to receive money wired by victims, has sparked questions about the security standards of commercial banks as well as the police’s handling of the case.
The source said yesterday (Jan 16) that Ms Nicha now believes she lost her ID card in a convenience store, where staff have said they held on to it pending the return of its owner.
However, another woman, identified as Pawina Singwibun, 31, showed up at the store and claimed the card. The staff gave the card to the woman without comparing the photo on the card with her face, said the source.
Pawina later sold the ID card for B5,000 to a foreigner, who also hired her to open bank accounts, the source said, adding that Pawina had used Ms Nicha’s ID card to register a new mobile phone number.
Earlier, Ms Nicha told police she travelled from Nonthaburi’s Bang Yai district to the Lak Song area in Bangkok by bus on Oct 6 last year and upon arrival discovered her ID card and other items had vanished from her purse.
Pawina was taken to Huai Khwang Police Station yesterday to give her account to police.
Police are also holding another woman, Cherati Saisin, in connection with the case. Pawina allegedly opened five accounts in Ms Nicha’s name while Cherati has been accused of opening four others.
According to the investigation, the pair are believed to have been working for an African man, identified as Simon Eko Ayuk, who is also being held by police.
Police said they are about to summon another female suspect, Prompon Pongcharoenkunakorn, who was seen in the CCTV footage with Ayuk at a shop house in Huai Khwang area.
Referring to their 12-hour interrogation of Ms Nicha, which ended at 3am on Monday (Jan 15), investigators said the process took longer than was initially expected as they had various doubts which needed clarifying, including the B6 million in her bank accounts.
Police are also finding out whether there is a connection between Ms Nicha and Ayuk, they said.
Meanwhile, the owners of two bank accounts into which a victim of the network in Sam Ngao district of Tak transferred money have been summonsed by Tak Police, according to officers.
They were identified as Kwan Thongnoi from Lopburi and Theerapatnon Ngamwong from Nong Khai.
Police said the victim, Kansinee Yamao, transferred B400,000 into Kwan’s account and B630,000 to Theerapatnon’s account.
Pol Lt Gen Surachet Hakphan, deputy chief of the Tourism Police Bureau, said police are in the process of tracking the network’s money trail. He said police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda will hold a press briefing today (Jan 17).
He said police are not ruling out any possibilities, especially given the repeated applications for new ID cards by Ms Nicha, who remains charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
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