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Online bank fraud faces probe

BANGKOK: Police are stepping up their investigations after it was revealed about 40,000 people had lost at least B10 million as a result of unauthorised online transactions.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 19 October 2021, 09:21AM

Kornchai: Vows to step up inquiry. Photo: Bangkok Post

Kornchai: Vows to step up inquiry. Photo: Bangkok Post

The commissioner of the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB), Pol Lt Gen Kornchai Klaiklung, said the police are in talks with the Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers’ Association to find a solution, reports the Bangkok Post.

“Initial checks found around 40,000 people have lost their money through such transactions,” Pol Lt Gen Kornchai said, before adding the majority of victims didn’t realise their money were being withdrawn as the perpetrators generally charged small amounts - albeit repeatedly.

Pol Lt Gen Kornchai said such withdrawals are possible if the perpetrators managed to get their hands on customers’ bank card details, which are often stored by online retailers and websites for the convenience of customers.

He said the police suspect multiple gangs are responsible for the crimes, using a variety of methods to commit offences.

Some gangs “phish” for their victims’ details by sending out text messages which asked them to fill in their personal details in exchange of discounts and other perks, he said. As such, he warned the public to not fill in their personal details into online forms that came from links from suspicious and/or unknown senders.

Meanwhile, some charges and withdrawals were made by store employees who stole their customers’ card details when their victims were completing a transaction, he said.

The commander of CCIB’s cyber crime analysis division, Pol Maj Gen Niwet Apawasin, said that some of the charges were initiated by online gaming platforms. He added that it would be easier to investigate applications registered in Thailand than those registered outside the country.

Police will hold discussions with the Bank of Thailand and online vendors to find ways to prevent such fraud - for example, by making the registration of online shops mandatory or issuing alerts when suspicious withdrawals are made, he said.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed all agencies to take urgent action to put an end to the problem.

The Bank of Thailand and Thai Bankers’ Association issued a joint statement on Sunday (Oct 17) saying banks would accept responsibility for unauthorised withdrawals. It did list the names of the banks, however.

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The statement said no commercial banks’ systems had been hacked, adding the irregular transactions were for payment to online shops registered outside Thailand.

Many victims are sharing their experiences on a Facebook page called “Sharing Experience on Unaware Cash Withdrawals”.

They questioned the security and reliability of Thai banks’ because they received no alerts at all when the unauthorised withdrawals were made. Most victims, in fact, only found out when they went to a bank to update their passbook.

One victim posted her passbook, which showed 13 withdrawals on Oct 11, each for B34.15.

The total number of victims remained unclear, but the aforementioned Facebook account had more than 57,000 followers as of yesterday.

Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said victims should ask banks to freeze their account and check their balance on their accounts once they suspect an unauthorised withdrawal has been made, before gathering all the evidence to file a police report.

He also said that those who misuse or abuse others’ electronic cards will face a jail term of up to five years and/or a fine of no more than B100,000 under the Criminal Code.

Paiboon Amornpinyokiat, a cyber security expert, told a television programme the unauthorised withdrawals were made possible by the failure of banks’ alert systems.

“Alerts were usually supposed to be issued, but they were not,” he said.

He also said some victims voluntarily gave up their personal information because they weren’t digitally literate, adding that agencies involved should investigate whether the withdrawals were the banks’ fault.

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Christy Sweet | 20 October 2021 - 18:38:52

Scamland 101 - Only keep small amounts of money  in an internet/ATM/Debit  linked account and use a separate bank for  large incoming transactions. Go the bank and physically make the transfers of what you'll need every month.  

Kurt | 20 October 2021 - 10:51:17

This form of scamming is in Thailand still in its infancy as many things here always start later than in the outside world. But one expects that certain foreigners and Thai are working hard to on technics to make it grows.  They laugh about RTP CCIB, knowing there is not much smart knowledge of 'modern' cyber crime.

Kurt | 20 October 2021 - 10:40:13

On Phuket, don't pay with credit cards, but cash. Don't let electric-, water-, TOT-, True Visions bills be collected through automatic 'banking'.  They make mistakes. To get your money back can take up to 1 year! "Money back" in Thailand is not in their culture.. Many people who ended a house rental can confirm that. Never get a deposit back from a Thai house owner.

SEC2 | 19 October 2021 - 15:54:46

Personally I can't believe people use their phones to pay for things. It does not seem secure. Who knows what is in the store scanners or who is accessing the data.  All banking apps came off my phone the minute I heard about MorChana. Shopping center employees  having access to my banking information.  No thank you.

Foot | 19 October 2021 - 15:29:37

This has been going on for decades. Thailand just noticed.  They got me pretty good in August. I think account numbers are collected at time of purchase and then sold off to the bad guys. Krungsri did fully reimburse me.


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